Past 1,000 Covid-19 cases, Kathmandu has no plan how to handle crisisDeputy mayor blames mayor for failing to take a timely decision that works.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has become one of the most affected zones in terms of Covid-19 spread in Kathmandu Valley. However, the city does not have a concrete plan to protect its residents and public health workers deployed on the front line.
According to the public health department of the metropolis, the number of infected people reached 1,068 on Monday with six Covid-19 deaths, and the number is steadily rising.
“The city’s health department does not have the capacity [to contain the situation]. There is no back-up plan, but we are taking help from the ward offices,” said Rajeshwor Gyawali, administrative spokesperson for the city.
The municipal public health division has deployed 10 units of health workers, three of them in each unit, for contact tracing in all 32 wards but this is inadequate.
The city does not have a single quarantine facility, nor does it have an isolation centre. According to officials, Kathmandu has an estimated two million residents. In the densely populated Capital, most houses host more than two families and some others over a dozen. In the absence of an isolation centre, there is a high chance of the disease spreading from one infected family to another in the same household.
Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya blames the movement of people from outside the Valley into the Capital as the main reason for the disease spreading fast here.
It’s not only the responsibility of the metropolis to set up isolation and quarantine facilities in the federal Capital, said Shakya.
When the Post contacted Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi, she blamed the mayor’s lack of timely decision and “insensitivity” for the current mess.
“I’ve been telling him to set up a quarantine centre. He should have negotiated with the central government in controlling the flow of people coming from outside the Valley,” said Khadgi. She charged the mayor with staying at home switching off his phone at this critical time.
Gyan Bahadur Oli, the Covid-19 focal person at the municipal public health department, said all the 32 wards of the city have over a dozen positive cases. The situation is getting severe in each ward but there is a limited human resource to deal with it, said Oli.
All health workers from the department have been mobilised seven days a week. “We are concerned about the possibility of these health workers catching the disease,” Oli said.
Not only public health workers, the sharp rise in infections worries ward representatives about their own chances of being infected.
“We the ward representatives ourselves are not safe as people call all the time and we need to reach different places,” said Mukunda Risal, the ward-16 chairperson. As of Monday, 47 people were infected in the ward. Risal said the number could have been higher as there has not been adequate testing.
“The situation is bleak here. We do not know how to address this problem,” said Rijal. The city plans to hire health workers to test more people after a central meeting on Wednesday.
The health department is also seeking more personnel for contract tracing, even as the explosion in cases makes the task more challenging.