KATHMANDU, April 4: As the country approaches the mid of the second week under nationwide lockdown, Ministry of Health and Population has concluded that the lockdown could be extended by another week to stop the spread of novel coronavirus disease.
A joint meeting of ministry officials, health experts and epidemiologists held on Friday decided to suggest the government extending lockdown restriction by another week.
As of Friday, the country has witnessed six COVID-19 confirmed cases. Of them, 1 had recovered and other 6 are still receiving medical treatment.
Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal’s advisor Dr Khem Karki said "Lockdown should be extended keeping in mind that a huge number of Nepalis have returned from India and other countries. Naturally, people will move here and there once the lockdown is lifted and there will be a risk of coronavirus transmission. Hence, our view point is it will be wise to extend the lockdown for another week."
"Symptoms of coronavirus may develop even after 14 days. For this reason, we should make sure abroad returnees staying in quarantine are tested negative to this deadly disease," he added.
He, however, viewed that the restriction can be a little bit relaxed by operating short-distance transportation services in those districts where risk of infection is relatively low. “At the same time, extending lockdown by one more week is the best option to assess the overall situation and take further steps,” Karki stated.
The southern neighbor India had announced lockdown for 21 days. However, Nepal government is imposing lockdown for two weeks.
According to physicians, coronavirus remains active for two to fourteen days. In some exceptional cases, it remains active for 24 days. For this reason, a minimum of 21 days’ lockdown is advisable. “If infection spreads during this lockdown period, it should be made longer,” spokesperson at Sukra Raj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku Dr Anup Bastola said.
Coordinator of research department at the same hospital Dr Sher Bahadur Pun also said that lockdown period should be extended up to 21 days due to the nature of virus and its spread.