KATHMANDU, March 30: Lab tests for the coronavirus are to begin in the provinces too. A day after BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences began the COVID-19 test for the first time outside Kathmandu, the Ministry of Health and Population is going to start such tests at Janakpur, Butwal, Hetauda, Pokhara and Surkhet.
Mahendra Bahadur Shrestha, director general at the Department of Health on Sunday said they have already mobilized expert teams to the provinces. Five sets of portable PCR were airlifted to Kathmandu in a chartered flight to fix delayed testing for coronavirus cases.
“Those PCRs and other medical equipment will be transported and the testing will begin in the provinces as well,” said Director General Shrestha. He said the department is sending 1,000 pieces of Personnel Protection Equipment for medical professionals to be mobilized for coronavirus testing and dealing with the corona infected people to each provinces along with other required medical equipment in a couple of days.
Dr Bikas Devkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, said the ministry is preparing to complete tests of some 2,000 people who returned to Nepal from European and Gulf countries amid fears of coronavirus by establishing labs in the provinces. Both the police and district administration offices have been tracking traces of those returnees and people they met after arriving in Nepal in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
Not a single virus testing lab was outside Kathmandu until the government established a laboratory for coronavirus in Dharan on Saturday. Samples collected in eastern Nepal are being tested there.But the samples of suspected coronavirus cases are being airlifted to Kathmandu once health professional collect such samples in the far-flung villages.
On Saturday, an aircraft of Nepal Airlines met with an accident while landing at the Nepalgunj airport when the plane was there to collect swab samples of COVID-19 suspects.
Due to the lack of labs outside Kathmandu, very few cases of coronavirus suspected are tested in Nepal. Till now, the National Public Health Laboratory has tested less than 1,000 swab samples of suspected people. Of them, five cases tested positive for the deadly virus.
A large number of migrant workers from Gulf countries and India have returned to their respective villages after the virus emerged in those countries. Some of them are staying in self-quarantine. But they are in great despair after local health authorities were not able to conduct tests for the coronavirus due to the lack of laboratories in nearby areas.
Among those corona-diagnosed people, one has returned home after treatment while others are still receiving treatment at hospitals.