As Province 5 steps up contact tracing to avoid outbreak, health workers decry lack of resourcesAll 109 local units of the province have set up quarantine facilities, but those who have been residing in those facilities are leaving them since they lack basic amenities.
Twelve days after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19, Province 5 government has said it has intensified the search for individuals who have returned to Nepal after the global spread of the viral disease.
Local units in the province have started collecting the record of returnees and quarantining them, but it hasn’t been effective, as many are reluctant to come out, officials say.
All 109 local units of Province 5 have set up quarantine facilities, but those who have been residing in those facilities are leaving them since they lack basic amenities. Locals have complained of a lack of drinking water, proper latrine and electricity.
According to data from the Province Health Directorate, as of Saturday, a total of 2,351 people have been quarantined in various facilities across 12 districts. About 300 health workers have been deployed at those facilities, according to Provincial Minister of Social Development Sudarshan Baral.
The health workers, however, are concerned for their safety, as the province lacks personal protective equipment. While the demand for PPEs is estimated at 10,000, only 1,135 sets have been supplied so far, according to Dinesh Chapagain, director of supply department at the social development ministry. “All the equipment received from the federal government have been distributed among districts,” he said.
Focal Personal Dr Sudarshan Thapa of the Temporary Coronavirus Hospital in Butwal said that health personnel are concerned that they might contract the disease since they don’t have protective gears.
“The number of protective kits we currently have is clearly not enough,” he said.
Besides coronavirus-specific hospitals, Province 5 has set up four isolation hospitals that will treat those who show symptoms of the disease. Until Saturday, a total of 124 individuals have registered at the isolation hospitals, according to Province 5 Health Director Dr Binod Giri.
In the province, 83 samples of throat swabs have been tested so far, of which 71 have tested negative and the results of the remaining 12 tests are pending.
Meanwhile, all the border points in Bardiya have been sealed after two of its neighbouring districts, Kailali and Kanchanpur, reported three Covid-19 cases on Saturday.
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.