As 304 dead and 14,380 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Chinese mainland and it is gradually expanding, Nepal’s health system is facing a stress to cope with the situation.
According to the Global Times, a total of 14,380 cases of novel coronavirus were confirmed in the Chinese mainland as of 24:00 on Saturday, with 304 dead and 328 recovered patients, said China’s National Health Commission.
Following the spread of deadly coronavirus, the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency. At a time when there is a growing complain that Nepal is ill prepared to spot and contain the disease, bringing back more than 200 Nepali students from China will intensify the health risk to returnees and general population.
However, Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH) said that a patient suspected with novel coronavirus infection tested negative. Of the six cases, one Chinese national tested positive.
The Rising Nepal daily reports that a test of resident of Dharan, who was admitted at the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences on Thursday following high fever and sore throat, came negative. Due to lack of facility in Dharan based hospital, to run test, the patient was referred to STIDH for further examination.
The daily quoting Dr. Anup Bastola, Chief Consultant Tropical Medicine at the STIDH Teku, reports that the suspected patient did not have any symptoms of coronavirus infection. The person had come from South Korea few days ago. He was sent to Kathmandu on Thursday evening after he suspected himself to be infected with the disease reports The Rising Nepal.
According to medical doctors, the biggest threat posed by this disease, which originated in Wuhan, is that people infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) may not always develop symptoms of illness. This shows people with coronavirus may transmit the disease without falling sick. This unique characteristic has raised the chances of the disease spreading rapidly without anyone noticing it for some time.
“Since it is difficult to spot people who have not developed symptoms, we must quarantine everyone coming into Nepal from countries where coronavirus has been detected for at least two weeks,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division told to The Himalayan Times.
As Nepal does not have adequate technology and tools to contain the virus, it can create epidemic if it enters Nepal. Nepal does not have adequate digital thermometer except in TIA. Similarly, Nepal does not have adequate guards for doctors, medical staffs and others who involve in treating coronavirus. The Hospitals are not prepared to treat for the patients contracted coronavirus.
There require a special ambulances to transfer patients to health facilities. According to the doctors, they require double cab ambulances to ferry patients to hospitals, as patients do not come into close contact with drivers in those vehicles. Similarly, National Public Health Laboratory lacks reagents to conduct comprehensive test of the virus.
The countries, which are not well prepared, always are victims of Global outbreak of any disease. Realizing the important of the work, WHO has directed all countries to prepare for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection.
Nepal has non-reusable personal protective equipment adequate for 150 tests, according to Dr Lal. “This is not adequate because those gears cannot be reused,” he said. Personal protective equipment should also be provided to ambulance drivers to prevent contagion. However, no ambulance driver has received one yet.
“Doctors, laboratory technicians and nurses should be insulated from every threat,” said Dr Baburam Marasini, former EDCD director.
The person has shown no sign of coronavirus, said Dr. Bastola adding that the person was suffering from influenza.
“However, he is undergoing treatment at the STIDH because he has developed Pneumonia. He is kept in a general ward,” he added. Dr. Bastola further added that so far the hospital had sent six samples of throat swab to the laboratory. Of them, only one tested positive for coronavirus, while the rest resulted negative.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and even death, said Dr. Bastola.
He said panic over the coronavirus outside of China is unproductive and unwarranted. But public should take precautions to avoid the infection. According to him, some media channels in the country are trying to create sensationalisation in terms of the new disease. Such practice should be discouraged in order to save people from panicking.
The most effective preventive measures are everyday actions like increased hand washing and not touching your face, nose and mouth, he added.