BAITADI, Dec 2: The Sudur Paschim Province has launched preventive measures against the possible spread of the 'Omicron' variant of COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already warned that the new variant poses very high risk globally, declaring it as the 'variant of concern'.
The Health Directorate of Sudurpaschim Province has said that surveillance has been enhanced along the Nepal-India border points in the Province keeping in view the high risk of COVID-19 latest strain classified as B.1.1.529. “The risk from the new variant prevails high in the Province as it shares borders with India,” the Directorate said.
If the new variant spreads in neighboring India, Sudur Paschim, too, will be at a great risk. Health desks have already been set up along the border points, according to officials.
Gaddachauki, Trinagar, Jhulaghat, and Pulghat are among the major entry points along the Nepal-India border in the province. The movement of people through these points is relatively higher than other entry points.
“It will take no time for the variant to spread in Nepal if it enters the country. So, we have ensured COVID-19 test facility and vaccination along the borders,” said Directorate chief Dr Gunaraj Awasthi.
During the first wave of COVID-19, the scope of the COVID-19 test was expanded in the province and the oxygen supply system was boosted during the second wave.
Officials said the province is preparing to further respond to the new variant based on its effects. “We are waiting for the direction from the federal line ministry (Ministry of Health and Population) to take measures against the new variant of COVID-19,” said Awasthi.
Awasthi said that they have set a target to vaccinate all eligible citizens above 18 against COVID-19 by mid-December and declare the province a fully-vaccinated zone for COVID-19.
All eligible citizens residing in the province have been urged to take the jab against the disease with priority as the vaccine supply is sufficient. The provincial government has urged the public for a mandatory use of masks and hand-sanitizer, maintaining physical distance and regular handwashing with soap and water as preventive measures against the infection.
A total of 48,039 people have been confirmed to have been infected by COVID-19 in the province as of Thursday. The nine districts in the province have so far reported 609 cases of deaths. The WHO has advised Nepal to take high cautions against the Omicron variant since it was first detected in South Africa.