Security measures stepped up in Province 2 following the death of a man in Bihar due to Covid-19Border authorities on either side have banned pedestrians and vehicles, including two-wheelers and e-rickshaws, from crossing the border.
Province 2 authorities have increased vigilance along the Nepal-India border after a person died of Covid-19 in the neighbouring Indian state of Bihar on Sunday. Local authorities have urged security personnel deployed at various border points in all eight districts of the province to remain alert. The authorities have also started screening individuals returning from India for symptoms akin to Covid-19.
With the ‘Janata curfew’ (people’s curfew) in effect in India on Sunday for 14 hours, the province saw a relatively low movement of people in the border area. Nonetheless, there was a heavy presence of security personnel at various border crossings, including Jatahi of Dhanusa district and Matihani of Mahottari district.
The Birgunj-Raxaul border point, one of the major points linking Nepal and India, also saw a fewer number of people crossing the border.
Border authorities on either side have banned pedestrians and vehicles, including two-wheelers and e-rickshaws, from crossing the border.
DSP Amar Khatri of the Armed Police Force, deployed at the Birgunj customs, informed that six Indian nationals were denied entry after they showed symptoms similar to that of Covid-19.
Dr Niraj Singh of the Birgunj-based Narayani Hospital pointed out that the administration should prioritise the strict enforcement of 14-day quarantine of Nepalis who are entering the country from India through various border points. “The authorities must urge all citizens, including people from the other side, to observe self-quarantine,” said Singh, adding that they should be treated at the isolation ward of a hospital only after showing symptoms of Covid-19.
Likewise, the flow of people from either side of the border at Bairganiya in Rautahat district was also low. Health officials at the help desk, who until Saturday were overwhelmed by people returning from India, were seen relaxed as both nations have stopped the movement of people through the border point.
“The Bairganiya border point has never been this empty, not even during strikes called by political parties,” said Lakhan Sah, who runs a paan shop nearby. “People have been aware of the spread of coronavirus, but there is a sense of fear in the past few days.”
In view of the Covid-19 outbreak in India, the Saptari administration has also banned the entry of people from India in seven out of its eight border points. Only Kunauli bazaar border crossing is open for people to enter Nepal.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of March 28, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had spread to 199 countries and infected more than 596,349 people with 27,343 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,373, with 11 deaths. While India has reported 667 confirmed cases with 20 deaths. Nepal has so far reported four cases, in which one patient recovered.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.