Epidemiologist suggests “test, test, test” as active cases of surge to eight
KATHMANDU, April 5: With the confirmation of the first locally transmitted COVID-19 case in Nepal, epidemiologists have warned that the case is a sign of possible outbreak of the deadly disease in the country. Alarmed by the latest report, they have urged the government to focus on “TEST” as recommended by the World Health Organisation to contain the disease.
On Saturday, the government confirmed that a 34-year-old woman – with no recent travel history to foreign countries – has been tested positive for the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1.1 million people across the globe and claimed around 60,000 lives in around three months since it was first detected in Wuhan of China in late December last year.
“This is the first case of local transmission in Nepal. The case shows that the coronavirus is spreading from person to person,” Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun of the Teku-based Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, told Republica, adding that the country has entered into the second phase of outbreak, which means the virus is being transmitted from person to person.
In a regular press meet, Dr Bikash Devkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, confirmed that the woman tested positive for coronavirus.
“She [patient] has been admitted to the Seti Provincial Hospital in Dhangadhi for treatment,” said Devkota, adding that the country has entered into the second phase of transmission.
“However, we [people] should not panic at all. As per the request of the government, people should not come out of their homes to prevent the outbreak from exacerbating. Abiding by the lockdown order issued by the government is a must to control the outbreak,” he added.
According to the ministry, the patient is a sister-in-law of a person who recently returned home from the United Arab Emirates and tested positive for coronavirus.
“Now, the government needs to trace the contacts of all the individuals who met with the infected persons, before it is too late. Once the virus enters the third phase – community to community transmission – the consequences would be beyond our imagination,” said another epidemiologist, requesting anonymity.
In the meantime, Dr. Anup Subedi, a specialist on infectious diseases at HAMS Hospital, said that the country had already entered into the second phase of transmission though the case was only confirmed on Saturday.
“The locally transmitted case was not reported earlier as there hasn't been sufficient testing from the government. Now, the government should focus on expanding testing facilities especially in border areas of the country, which witnessed huge influx of Nepali migrant workers before the lockdown,” said Subedi, adding that the government should form a proper mechanism to test every possible suspect before it is too late.
In the meantime, two other cases of coronavirus were also confirmed by the ministry on Saturday. Both of the patients had recently returned from India. According to the ministry, a 21-year-old male and a 41-year-old male have tested positive.
“Both of them were placed in quarantine facilities in Kailali and Kanchanpur respectively. After the test reports, they [both patients] have been admitted to the Seti Provincial Hospital,” said Spokesperson Devkota, adding that the 41-year-old patient had returned from Hariyana, while the 21-year-old is a Mumbai returnee.
With this, Nepal has a total of eight active cases of Covid-19, while one patient has already recovered from the virus.