Local governments intensify campaigns after receiving flak for hasty rescuesMore than 1,000 individuals entered Sindhupalchok in the last one week, according to the District Administration Office.
People’s representatives in Sindhupalchok have started door-to-door health checkup campaigns to mitigate the risk of spread of the novel coronavirus in the district. Workers from various health posts, teachers and volunteers have also joined the campaign.
Those who came to the district after the municipalities decided to “rescue” people stranded in various cities were sent home after preliminary screening only. This move had garnered criticisms and concerns from the locals; some even questioned the people’s representatives’ move to send the returnees home instead of keeping them in quarantine.
More than 1,000 individuals have entered Sindhupalchok in the last week. According to the District Administration Office, 418 individuals returned to the district from India, Iraq, Dubai and other Gulf countries.
Since the last two days, the people’s representatives, accompanied by health workers, have been visiting individual households to check on recent returnees and their family members.
Banshalal Tamang, chairman of Indrawati Rural Municipality, said, “We have prepared work plans to fight the Covid-19 infection. We are ready to provide medicine and treatment if needed.” According to Tamang, local officials have started awareness campaigns on social distancing, managing essential medicine and measuring body temperature.
In Indrawati, 24 individuals who returned to the district from abroad since the lockdown, have completed their 14-day quarantine and gone home. “We are also following up on their health conditions. They have been instructed to stay in self-quarantine for a few more days even though there are no visible symptoms of infection in them,” said Tamang.
Surman Shrestha, a resident of Indrawati, said the villagers are now more at ease with the situation after the people’s representatives reached out to them with health workers and medicines. “Although the campaign is focussed on those who returned to the villages recently, patients of minor illnesses and chronic diseases who have been taking medicine regularly are also receiving medical attention,” he said. “We are happy with how the local government is handling this situation.”
Like Indrawati, Barhabise and Chautara Sangachokgadhi Municipalities have also started distributing medicine to those in need and raising awareness about coronavirus. Nimphunjo Sherpa, mayor of Barhabise Municipality, said they have started to actively reach out to the villagers to provide health care. “Health workers have been deployed in various villages to identify chronic patients, pregnant and postpartum women. We have also kept an ambulance on standby in case of emergency,” said Sherpa.
Panchpokhari Thangpal, Lisankhupakhar, Jugal, Sunkoshi and Bhotekoshi Rural Municipalities have also intensified coronavirus awareness campaigns. Jugal Rural Municipality has started collecting data on newcomers and kept an ambulance on standby. Hom Narayan Shrestha, chairperson of Jugal Rural Municipality, said they have been distributing soaps and face masks to every household.
Panchpokhari Thangpal Rural Municipality has also kept health workers on high alert to provide treatment to needy people. “An ambulance has been kept on stand-by, PPEs have been sent to each of the health posts, the health posts have been upgraded, and a 50-bed isolation bed has been built in the rural municipality to fight against coronavirus,” said Tashi Lama Hyalmo, chairman of Panchpokhari Thangpal Rural Municipality.
Chief District Officer Umesh Kumar Dhakal said door-to-door campaigns have proven effective due to the involvement of people’s representatives. “These campaigns are more effective because locals’ put a lot of faith in the local representatives. This way messages about coronavirus will reach each and every village in the district.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 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. Covid-19 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 deaths.
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.