Individuals at quarantine facilities in Banke living with fear of snakesMost refuse to stay in these facilities since snake sightings have increased with the rise in temperature.
Last week, Sundarlal Kadu was bit by a snake while he was sleeping at a quarantine facility in Janaki Rural Municipality, Banke.
Kadu spent the entire night in agony and without treatment since the ward office could not manage an ambulance at night. Mohammad Raja Rai, the ward chairman, said he tried to get an ambulance to take Kadu to a hospital but none was available.
“I made several phone calls but there was no ambulance available to take the patient to a hospital,” he said.
It was only at 8am the next morning that Kadu was admitted to Bheri Hospital. He is now out of danger, said Rai.
Snake sightings in the rural municipality are not uncommon but this year, the locals are more exposed to the threat of snake bites since most of them are housed at poorly managed quarantine facilities. According to Rai, ever since he was quarantined, he has on several occasions seen snakes inside the facility but never had the means to protect himself.
“There are no beds in the facility and no ambulance in the isolation centre. The snakes slither into the facility at night and we don’t know how to stop them,” he said.
The ward office on June 9 had agreed to send 19 quarantined individuals to their homes after they refused to stay in the facility for fear of snakes. Currently, there are 14 individuals at the facility.
The situation is the same in quarantine centres across Narainapur, the hotspot of coronavirus spread in Province 5. There are currently 130 individuals staying at three quarantine facilities in Narainapur. All three facilities are dimly lit and do not have enough beds, which make it difficult for the quarantined to avoid snakes.
“We can’t sleep at night for fear of getting bitten. It’s also hot indoors so we spend our nights outside but that leaves us exposed to snakes,” said Jahid Ali Sekh, who’s staying at a quarantine facility in Ward No.4.
Sekh had returned home from Maharashtra in India almost two weeks ago.
Istiyak Ahamad Shah, chairman at the rural municipality, admitted that his office does not have the funds to properly manage quarantine facilities in the local unit.
“We don’t have the funds to purchase beds or secure the facilities from snakes,” he said.
In Bardiya, people staying in quarantine facilities face the same reality.
Last week, a man was bitten by a snake at Sadashiva Multiple Campus quarantine in Barbardiya Municipality. A few weeks prior to that incident, locals in Gulariya also reported spotting snakes inside the quarantine facility at Bagalamukhi Radhakrishna Tharu Secondary School.
The data of Bheri Hospital showed that eight out of 150 snakebite victims died while undergoing treatment in the last fiscal year.
“The hot and humid weather brings snakes out of their shelters, which makes their confrontation with humans unavoidable. The only way to save oneself from snake bites is by using beds and mosquito nets,” Dr Paras Pandey, a snakebite specialist in Banke, said. According to him, kraits and cobras are the most commonly found snake species in Banke and Bardiya.
Meanwhile, some individuals staying at a quarantine facility in Banke’s Khajura Rural Municipality have brought their own beds and mosquito nets from home to protect themselves from snakes. But for others, taking such measures is not possible.
“I get covered with mosquitoes and other insects while sleeping at night, and I worry that I might get bitten by snakes. But I can’t afford a bed or a mosquito net,” said Budhisara Magar, a resident of Simalghari staying at a quarantine facility in the local unit.
There are 88 individuals, including seven women, in the quarantine facility set up at Janakalyan Secondary School of Khajura.
“We have asked newcomers to sleep outdoors since all rooms are packed. We have also asked them to bring their own beds and mosquito nets, as we have run out of resources to make such arrangements for them,” said Eka Maya BK, vice chairperson at the rural municipality. There are currently 279 individuals staying at 24 quarantine facilities in Khajura Rural Municipality.