People gradually leaving quarantine facilities, isolation wards in SudurpaschimRisk of spread of coronavirus has increased since the lockdown has been eased in various districts in the province.
As many as 536 people have returned home to Bhageshwor in Dadeldhura from India since the government enforced nationwide the Covid-19 lockdown on March 24. Of the 118 tested for coronavirus, 27 were found to have contracted the virus.
According to Man Bahadur Sahu, chief at the health unit of the local unit, 413 individuals were allowed to go home as their rapid diagnostic tests results came negative for coronavirus.
The infected people were sent homes also because they did not show any symptoms during their two-week stay in quarantine facilities at the local health post.
“Only five people are left at the quarantine facility and no one is there in the isolation ward right now,” said Sahu. According to him, even those infected were sent home without conducting a second test to confirm they have recovered.
Bhageshwor Rural Municipality is just an example. All seven local governments in Dadeldhura have sent infected people and those in quarantine home without testing them for the second time.
The risk of community transmission of the disease is high in Dadeldhura and other districts in Sudurpaschim Province as authorities are only conducting rapid tests on suspects, said to Jagdish Chandra Bista, medical superintendent at Dadeldhura Hospital.
“We cannot rule out community transmission of the virus. There is a risk of community transmission as local units sent suspects and patients home based on rapid test results,” said Bista. “We are, therefore, planning to collect swab samples from the community after we complete the laboratory test on the people currently in quarantine,” he added.
Though authorities don’t maintain records, it is estimated that around 15,000 migrant workers returned homes from India during the lockdown.
According to the Dadeldhura District Public Health Office, swabs of 2,596 people have been collected until Monday. Among them, 285 have tested positive for the virus. Seven of them are in isolation while others have returned home.
Quarantine facilities in the district are now almost empty with only 233 people remaining. According to Bista, there were around 4,700 people in different quarantine facilities in the district a month-and-half ago.
Similarly in Kanchanpur, quarantine facilities, which were once crowded, have been gradually emptying in the past few days. According to the District Public Health Office, 1,078 people are currently staying in various quarantine facilities while around 14,000 have returned home after completing their quarantine stay.
“New infections have not been reported in the district for the past two days. And most of the infected people have recovered and gone home,” said Siddharaj Bhatta, a public health officer. A total of 447 have been infected in Kanchanpur and 375 have returned homes after treatment.
According to Bhatta, swab samples of 2,560 people were collected in Kanchanpur as of Monday. Lab reports of around 700 people are yet to come, he added.
Meanwhile, the risk of the spread of the coronavirus has increased since the lockdown has been eased in various districts in the province. Business activities in Dhangadhi, the temporary provincial headquarters in Kailali district, have increased as hotels, restaurants, salons, beauty parlours, gyms have started operations.
Locals are worried about the possible transmission of the disease with the increase in activities in public spaces. “Dhangadhi is limping back to normalcy but the public is not adhering to standard protocols to be followed during this pandemic,” said Shivaraj Joshi, a local of the sub-metropolis.
“Even if businesses run and people go out, we all must adopt safety measures. The threat of the virus is still very much alive.” Kailali has so far reported 922 positive cases. As many as 89 people were infected in Dhangadhi alone.
(Mohan Budhaair contributed reporting from Dhangadhi)