March 26, 2020 08:36 AM NPT
Yet another person has been tested positive of Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) of Ministry of Health, making the number of total positive cases three out of the total tests of 687. That Nepal has not had to witness fatality so far is a matter of relief but many think that we have negligible positive cases because Nepali health authorities have not tested the people. To test the people, health facilities must have protective gears and test kits as well, which they do not have. Worldwide, the number of infection is rising. So is the number of deaths too. In this context, Nepali authorities must do at least two vital things to ensure that the pandemic can be contained. First, trace. Health authorities need to trace all persons the infected came into contact with and bring them to medical facilities. They should be tested and even if they are found negative they should be put in quarantine depending on the severity of the case. For the moment, it is crucial to trace the contacts and whereabouts of all those who were in contact with two persons recently tested positive. And then, having traced them, health authorities should test all of them. Given the speed in which Covid-19 is spreading, health authorities should test every individual who has the symptoms of flu and fever.
After a Nepali student returning from France via Qatar was tested positive for the novel coronavirus, immigration authorities and the police have started a search operation to track down the other 158 passengers who were on the same plane (QR652) with her and the persons they met or came into contact with after landing in Nepal. Immigration officials have provided police the flight details of the passengers on the plane and based on passport photocopies of fellow passengers, police have identified some of the passengers and are trying to reach out to them to isolate them. Immigration officials have provided passport details, mainly names and addresses, of the passengers to the district administration offices and district police office concerned, who have started to track them down, by mobilizing police to the respective localities of the passengers. Local governments have also been asked to assist in tracking down the passengers. This approach has worked. A local of Baglung has said he was on the same plane and following this local police and health professionals are trying to reach out to him. This is how it should be, in fact.
In the days to come as the number of positive cases surges (we hope it does not), government authorities will be overwhelmed with the burden of tracing and testing. Many individuals will have to be traced, tested and cured. For this the health facilities will have to be equipped with protective gears, test kits and all the vital medicines. Understandably, this has been a challenge for the whole world but there is no escape from this challenge either. Every suspected case has to be tested. Every life has to be saved.