Let there be testing, testing, testing: Dr Pun

Published On: March 28, 2020 10:05 AM NPT By: Guna Raj Luitel  | @gunaraj

It is not known whether the disease is spreading its tentacles in the towns and villages and this state of ignorance could turn out to be costly, says Dr Pun.

KATHMANDU, March 28: The number of novel coronavirus infected in the country has remained constant for the last three days but this has not reassured the experts. According to doctors, although it looks like the virus is limited to people who have come in from outside the country, only massive testing among the populace can establish whether that is true.

Doctors at the one and only testing facility, at Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital, stated that the infection looks to date like it has been imported, and the situation here appears normal. Even the number of people coming to the hospital for COVID-19 testing has come down.

Rather, other types of patients have been swarming in. However, it is extremely important to go for massive checkups, according to senior physician at the hospital, Dr Sher Bahadur Pun.

"Few people are now coming in because of suspicion of the coronavirus; other kinds of patients are coming in huge numbers," said Dr Pun. "But in order to prevent a possible spread of the virus, it is vital to identify all those who might possibly be infected," he added.

It is not known whether the disease is spreading its tentacles in the towns and villages and this state of ignorance could turn out to be costly, he further said.

So far, Nepal has registered the infection of four people only. While one them has already been cured, the other two are receiving treatment at the hospital. According to Dr Pun, this is not that worrisome. But no sense of urgency is being shown in identifying other possible infected, and the actual situation could be totally different. "We should go for testing aggressively at this stage and ensure maximum safety," he stressed.

The trickiest thing about this virus and its most dangerous aspect is that no symptoms might be seen in the infected, said Dr Pun. A person without any symptoms could be carrying the virus and transmitting it to others. That is why testing is so essential.

He further stated that testing of the virus on time will greatly help in keeping the situation under control. According to him, the actual scenario of the infection in the country will become clear only if there is massive testing on a war footing.

He pointed to the need for keeping people who have come in from India under supervision. They are going to shape the novel coronavirus trajectory in the country. "Maximum number of people have come from India recently. Many Nepalis have come from abroad and similarly, there are foreign nationals also," he said, adding that though they have been asked to go for home quarantine, many have been ignoring this.

If those people could be tested within 14 days, it would be a great stride in containing this deadly virus. But such testing has not happened yet, Dr Pun said.

He has stressed raising public awareness about the novel coronavirus and treating the infected and suspected cases with compassion.

Dr Sundar Mani Dixit, who has been outspoken against the government's fecklessness in the face of the virus menace, is also calling for greater public awareness. As people have stopped coming to his private clinic for check-ups, he is busy promoting awareness. He keeps asking people to keep their physical distance from one another.

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