KATHMANDU, April 4: Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) on Saturday said that 14-day quarantine period is not enough to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
According to the MoHP spokesperson Dr Bikash Devkota, patients may develop COVID-19 symptoms even after 14 days. "Therefore, it is advisable to remain in quarantine and maintain social distancing even after two weeks," he said during a daily press briefing at his ministry on Saturday.
Earlier, the government authorities had said that one has to spend at least two weeks in isolation as 14 days is the incubation period of the coronavirus.
On the occasion, the spokesperson informed that a total of 1,441 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted so far at National Public Health Laboratory in Teku, Kathmandu.
He also added that testing has begun in the country's six major cities Dharan, Janakpur, Hetauda, Pokhara, Surkhet and Dhangadi. “Lab test will start in Chitwan and Butwal from tomorrow and the installation of required equipment is currently underway for the same,” he said.
As of Saturday, 69 suspected COVID-19 patients are kept under isolation in various hospitals throughout the country. Of them, 54 are in Kathmandu based hospitals and others are placed in the health institutions out of the valley.
Dr Devkota also informed that 3465 calls so far have been addressed through COVID-19 Call Center established by the ministry.
“Similarly, we have received 6,527 self-evaluation entries via MoHP’s COVID-19 dedicated website and mobile app,” stated he adding that 126 patients were placed in ‘red zone’ and contacted and traced accordingly. He also requested people to make correct entries through those platforms so that it would help the government identify the cases and prevent COVID-19 spread.
Spokesperson Devkota also took time to share that they had a very few personal protective equipment (PPE) and urged the medics to make an efficient use. “I’d also like to request one and all not to share any sort of fake news or rumors regarding PPE and other issues.”
During the briefing he informed that that the country has reported three new COVID-19 cases including its first locally transmitted case of the deadly disease after the swab report of the 34-year-old lady from Kailali tested positive at the NPHL, Teku on Saturday, more than two months after Nepal confirmed its first COVID-19 case on January 24.
Earlier today, the MoHP through its Facebook page informed that the lady – with no recent travel history to any foreign country – tested positive for the coronavirus, making it the first locally transmitted case in Nepal. According to the ministry, the woman is a relative of the fourth patient, who had returned to Nepal from the United Arab Emirates. "Now, we have entered to a second phase of coronavirus infection. Therefore, let's follow the lockdown orders and stay home," he said.
Other two patients include a 21-year-old man of Kailali who returned from Indian city Mumbai and a 41-year-old man of Kanchanpur who is also India returnee from Uttarakhand bordering Nepal.
With this, Nepal has eight active cases of coronavirus in Nepal.
Meanwhile, physicians also suggested the government to extend the lockdown period at least one more week. According to them, coronavirus remains active for two to fourteen days. In some exceptional cases, it may remain active for 24 days. For this reason, a minimum of 21 days’ lockdown is advisable, they say. “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 said that lockdown period should be extended up to 21 days due to the nature of virus and its spread.