Front line workers at risk of Covid-19 infection despite dip in cases in ParsaAs many as 141 health workers, 49 janitors, three ambulance drivers and 125 security personnel tested positive for the virus in the district.
The number of active Covid-19 cases has decreased in Parsa, a hotspot of the disease in Province 2, but the infection rate among frontline workers mobilised to control Covid-19 in the district is still high.
A total of 141 health workers, 49 janitors working at various health institutions and three ambulance drivers have tested positive for coronavirus as of Tuesday. The first case of infection in a health worker was reported back in May, according to the District Administration Office in Parsa.
Similarly, 125 security personnel have been infected with the virus in the district.
“Many health employees and support staff have been infected with Covid-19 in Parsa despite adopting all safety measures while on duty,” said Jayamod Thakur, an officer at the District Health Office. He, along with his wife and son, tested positive for Covid-19 a few weeks ago. “Despite being very cautious, I caught the virus. There is no sure-fire way to protect ourselves from the virus while on duty.”
According to Thakur, the officer at the District Health Office, there are a total of 624 health workers working in various health institutions in the district.
“The district health office will be providing health workers with coronavirus insurance. They have been given PPEs and other protective gears while being mobilised to control the disease,” Thakur said.
A total of 2,628 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Parsa district with 45 deaths so far. The health authority has collected and tested swabs of 23,744 people.
“The risk of coronavirus transmission is still very high among health workers and other hospital staffers even though the number of active cases has decreased in Parsa,” said Dr Atulesh Chaurasiya, spokesperson of Narayani Hospital in Birgunj. “Health workers and hospital employees cannot refrain from their duties and responsibilities and most of them are getting infected despite health safety measures in place.”
Narayani Hospital is one of the designated Covid-19 hospitals in the district.
According to health workers, the number of Covid-19 cases had surged in mid-July to mid-August in the district. Although the number of positive cases has decreased, the chances of an outbreak are high, as the district has been slowly relaxing its prohibitory orders.
“Although the local administration has relaxed the prohibitory orders, the public should be wary of stepping out of their houses. The infection rate is high in neighbouring Bara and other districts and there is free movement across district borders. This may cause the virus to spread further in Parsa too,” Chaurasiya said. “The number of people dying of Covid-19 is still high in the district even if the number of positive cases has decreased.”
Four persons died of Covid-19 in the district on Sunday and Monday, he added.
Birgunj is Nepal’s largest trade gateway and handles 70 percent of the country’s imports and exports. The densely populated Parsa has an open border with India, which exposes the district to a surge in infections since movement through the porous border continues despite restrictions in place.
“Security personnel are also at high risk of contracting the disease since we have to deal with daily activities in the border area,” said Superintendent of Police Ganga Panta.
The district administration has enforced a prohibitory order in Birgunj Metropolitan City till October 1 with certain relaxations.
“The prohibitory order could be lifted from October 1 if the number of positive cases continues to decrease,” said Binaya Shreewastav, an administrative officer at the District Administration Office. “However, people should be very careful, as the virus may spread during the festival season when there will be a heavy movement of people within and outside the district.”