Two district hospitals in Province 5 closed after health workers infected with Covid- 19District Hospitals in Arghakhanchi and Nawalparasi (West) have closed all services, except emergency units, and sent their Covid-infected health workers in isolation.
Birendra KC & Nabin Paudel
Health services at two district hospitals in Province 5 have come to a halt after some health workers at the health institutions tested positive for the coronavirus.
The District Hospitals in Arghakhanchi and Nawalparasi (West) have closed all services, except its emergency ward, and sent their Covid-infected health workers in isolation. Most of the infected health workers are those who worked both in district hospitals and private hospitals, officials at the district hospitals say.
Dr Kapil Gautam, chief at the District Hospital in Arghakhanchi, said, “On Monday, the hospital closed all services except emergency ones after 12 health workers tested positive for coronavirus. We have collected the swab samples of 63 individuals who were in contact with the infected health workers and sent them to the Public Health Laboratory in Bhairahawa for PCR tests.”
On Monday, the hospital discharged all patients who were in the in-patient care department and sent them home.
“They have been asked to stay in touch with the health workers,” said Gautam. According to him, three doctors and four other health workers who tested negative for the coronavirus a week ago have been deployed at the Emergency Unit. “Those awaiting their test results have been asked to stay in home isolation,” Gautam told the Post.
Likewise, health services at Prithvi Chandra Hospital, the district hospital of Nawalparasi (West), have also been closed from Sunday. Dr Mohammad Nural Hoda, acting chief at the hospital, said, “We had to close the hospital from Sunday after three doctors and one nurse tested positive for coronavirus.” According to him, the Hospital Development Committee and the District Administration Office decided to close the hospital’s Out Patient Department, along with other essential health services, for a week.
“It takes at least a week to contact-trace those who came in contact with the infected. The hospital cannot resume health services until the PCR test results of all health workers are released,” said Hoda.
The disruption of health services in the two district hospitals have put locals at a disadvantage since the closest government hospitals are in Bhairahawa and Butwal.
“Those who can’t afford private hospitals are facing difficulties in getting medical care,” said Roshan Chaudhary, a local of Ramgram Ward No. 10 in Nawalparasi (West). “People have been compelled to go to Bhairahawa or Butwal to get treatment for minor ailments. Not everybody can afford to do so.”
Meanwhile, the District Hospital in Kapilvastu, which was sealed for the last two weeks, has resumed health services from Sunday. The hospital was sealed after five of its health workers tested positive for coronavirus on August 10. The next day, out of 91 swab samples collected from the hospital, 18, including that of the hospital’s medical superintendent, tested positive for coronavirus.
Dr Kishor Banjade, medical superintendent of the hospital, said, “We have resumed health services from Sunday. Health workers who tested negative for coronavirus have been deployed in the wards and emergency unit.”
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.