Baitadi reels under shortage of medical equipment to combat the spread of Covid-19Department of Health Services sent only 10 thermal guns and a few necessary medical equipment to be distributed across Sudurpaschim Province.
The Regional Health Directorate in Sudurpaschim Province had asked for 100 sets of thermal guns with the Department of Health Services. But, on Monday the directorate received on 10 thermal guns and a few other necessary medical equipment to be used in health centres across the entire province on Monday.
On Wednesday, Baitadi district received one of the 10 thermal guns. According to the Baitadi Health Office, the district-based health facilities received only a limited supply of medical equipment to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
There are 65 health posts, two primary health centres and one District Hospital in Baitadi. But, the department sent only 30 pieces of gowns and N95 masks. Yogesh Bhatta, chief at the District Health Office, said, “It was told that the department sent the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to the district. But what we received were gowns that can’t be used because they don’t cover the entire body.”
The department sent 2,500 masks and 3,000 gloves along with N95 masks and gowns to the district. Although the PPE kits are not in adequate quantities, the District Health Office will have to make do with them, said Bhatta. When raising questions about the quality of the PPE kits in context to the cancellation of the tender to purchase medical equipment from China, Bhatta said, “We cannot exactly say whether the PPE kits are of good quality or not. The department has not informed us about the standard of the materials sent or the controversy surrounding the tender bid. But we have decided to use them anyway for a lack of an alternative.”
The District Health Office has already distributed 10 PPE kits to the District Hospital. Bhatta said, “We are going to send some PPE kits to the local units as well.”
Initially, the hospital staff were excited after the arrival of a truck with medical equipment. But they are now not sure about the quality of the medical equipment sent. Dr Basantaraj Joshi, chief at the District Hospital, said, “We are not satisfied with the PPE kits. There are sub-standard. Moreover, we received only 10 gowns and 10 N95 masks.” There are 45 health workers in the hospital. “These PPE kits can be used only once. There isn’t enough to go around,” said Joshi.
“The risk of contracting and spreading the disease is high for those on the frontline. So sending us sub-standard materials is playing with the lives of service providers and seekers,” said Joshi.
Dr Gunaraj Awasthi, chief at the Regional Health Directorate in Sudurpaschim Province, said, “The Department of Health Services has sent very few PPE kits this time. But, we distributed those kits in all districts of Sudurpaschim evaluating the quantity we received.”
According to Awasthi, the Regional Health Directorate has kept the higher authorities abreast of the shortage of equipment in the province. “We have asked them to dispatch the next batch of equipment without further delay,” he said.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 30, 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 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 6,029,950 people with 366,802 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 173,491 with 4,980 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 64,028 confirmed cases with 1,317 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 1401 cases with six 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.