Chhapkaiya, Covid-19 hotspot in Province 2, is at high risk of community transmissionLocal residents demand polymerase chain reaction tests of more people in the dense settlement.
Without mass testing and contact tracing, there is a threat of community transmission of Covid-19 in the settlement of Chhapkaiya in Birgunj, locals say.
The settlement, which straddles the second and third wards of Birgunj, has already had 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, and yet the authorities concerned have been slow to respond to the emergency, Mahesh Das, a local man, said.
“The whole of Parsa district so far has had 91 coronavirus cases, nearly half of that is from Chhapkaiya, but there have not been enough tests and contact tracing,” Das said. “The authorities have not tested around 60 locals who had come in contact with the infected people. We fear the infection will further spread in the community.”
Three Indian nationals residing in a mosque at Chhapkaiya tested positive for Covid-19 on April 12. The swabs from 21 men residing in the mosque had been tested for the coronavirus at the laboratory of the Vector Borne Disease Research and Training Center in Hetauda. It was the first coronavirus case in Province 2.
Of the total infected people in Chhapkaiya, eight are the children aged four months to 14 years. Locals suspect many other children in the settlement may be carrying the virus as they used to play with the infected children.
They also worry that they might have contracted the virus from the community water well situated close to the home of an infected family. As many as 18 members of a single family have been infected with the disease in the settlement.
The deadly virus had been detected among those Indian nationals, who arrived at the mosque in Chhapkaiya after visiting various districts, in the first phase. After three weeks, a sanitation worker had tested positive on April 26. Soon, the infection was confirmed in other people in the settlement. On May 12, as many as 57 Covid-19 cases were reported in Parsa and 20 of them were from Chhapkaiya. The infected people are receiving treatment at an isolation ward of Narayani Hospital in Birgunj.
The people’s representatives also expressed their concerns for lackadaisical response of the authorities to control the spread of the disease in Chhapkaiya.
Baiju Prasad Swarnakar, the ward chairman of Birgunj-3, said there had not been enough swab collection for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in Chhapkaiya.
“PCR tests should be conducted on all the people living in the infected area. If we delay the testing, the infection will become widespread, ” Swarnakar said.
A health team from Narayani Hospital had collected the throat swabs of 230 people including 80 security personnel, health workers and sanitation workers in Chhapkaiya on May 8.
Lalit Kumar Basnet, the assistant chief district officer of Parsa, admitted the need for more tests in Chhapkaiya. He assured to conduct the PCR tests as per the availability of the resources.
“The health team from Narayani Hospital has collected swabs of about 2,100 people in the district till Thursday. Swab collection has been delayed after the district witnessed a sudden surge in the number of infected people,” said Basnet.
He said the authorities were struggling to handle the increasing cases of the disease.
“Seventy-one of the total 91 infected people are kept in the isolation ward of Narayani Hospital which has the capacity of 70 people. Others are kept by establishing a temporary isolation ward in Siddhartha Secondary School in Birgunj,” he added.