Despite border closure, people continued to cross Mahakali river to enter IndiaNepali authorities, however, expressed ignorance about such movements of people.
Amid coronavirus fears, hundreds of people have been crossing the Mahakali river, the border between Nepal and India, on to Nepali territory, locals say. Nepali authorities, however, expressed ignorance about such movements of people.
The movement of people across the Mahakali started on Friday and continued through Monday, Upendra Jora, a resident of Bhageshwor Rural Municipality in Dadeldhura, told the Post. “Many are using tyre tubes while others are swimming across the river,” he said.
India has so far reported 415 coronavirus cases with seven deaths. Even though Nepal has shut its borders with India and China, people are freely crossing the Mahakali river and the Nepali authorities are not taking any measures to control it, said Jora, who estimated that around 1,500 people have entered Nepal by crossing the Mahakali in the last few days.
“We have informed the local police post and the administration about the illegal river crossings, but they haven’t paid attention to us,” Jora said. “All they do is pay lip service, saying they will soon deploy security personnel across the river.”
Meanwhile, DSP Dadhiram Neupane of Dadheldhura Police said he is unaware of illegal crossings across the river.
“All the border points are closed. We don’t have any information about illegal crossings,” he said. “But we have deployed personnel in many places across the river to control illegal movement.” People in the bordering areas of Dadheldhura cross the Mahakali to India to run errands.
The district has yet to step up measures to tackle the contingent spread of the virus, locals and health workers say. A team formed under the leadership of the chief district officer has been disseminating information about the pandemic but there’s little else that has been done so far. Many health workers have left rural areas out of fear and have concentrated in the district headquarters.
Hari Bhatta, vector of Public Health Office, said that the district hospital has created an isolation ward of 11 beds.
“But the hospital has yet to adopt other precautions,” he said. “The district doesn’t have testing kits and security gears. The hospital has been scrambling to prepare for the pandemic with whatever resource it has but that might not suffice.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of March 31, 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. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had spread to 199 countries and infected more than 8,07,705 people with 39,456 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,865 with 25 deaths. While India has reported 1,251 confirmed cases with 32 deaths. Nepal has so far reported five cases, in which one patient recovered.
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.