COVID-19 in Sudurpashchim

Experts fear COVID-19 could have been spreading at community level as people without recent travel history test positive

Published On: August 14, 2020 09:29 AM NPT By: DIL BAHADUR CHHATYAL

DHANGADI, Aug 14: There has not been any authentic study whether the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has already spread at the community level in Sudurpaschim Province. However, experts fear that this province could soon be a COVID19 hotspot in view of a growing number of locals without a recent travel history testing positive.

“We are at a danger zone. It is not hard to sense that Sudurpaschim could turn into a hotspot for COVID19 pretty soon. There have been lapses in the way we handled this pandemic,” said Dr Suvesh Raj Kayastha. “People’s movement in the border dramatically surged in the past few months. Even though there were provisions to quarantine them after they cross the border, many went home straight away.”

According to Kayastha, many people are now testing positive for COVID19 even though they have not traveled anywhere in recent months. Since a large number of people, who came from India in the past few months, have mixed up in the community, this has triggered a rapid spread of virus.

The first case of COVID-19 was detected in the country back in January. However, the government had still flaunted Nepal as being a safe zone for the virus. After another person, a France returnee, got tested for the virus in March, it was on high alert and soon lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of the virus. 

On the other hand, there were tensions in the southern border in the lack of organized entry and quarantine facilities for thousands of people returning home from India. Many speculated right then that the bordering districts could be seriously affected by the virus. 

But now experts say that their prediction was not wrong. “Lack of self-discipline among people and proper inspection and management on the part of local government authorities to keep the India returnees in isolation has brought about this situation. Still, we should try to control possible damages,” said Kayastha. “Now PCR testing should not be limited to those who have come in contact with the infected. The scope of the testing should be expanded to the community.”

Earlier, the government had made it mandatory for people coming from India and other countries to quarantine themselves as per government’s standard. From mid July, they were allowed to go home directly. Millions of people have come to Sudurpaschim from Trinagar border of Kailali and Gaddhachowki of Kanchanpur, among others, since the outbreak of the pandemic in March.

Information officer at Seti Provincial Hospital Dilipkumar Shrestha said although the exact number is not immediately available, there are ample cases of people without recent travel history testing positive for COVID19 . “This has made us nervous,” he said.

While the COVID19 has already claimed 10 lives, the number of people tested positive for COVID-19 has so far reached 4,809 in the Sudurpaschim Province.

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