KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population verified the local transmission case of coronavirus in Nepal on Saturday.
After finding a local-transmission case in a 34-year-old woman in Kailali, the medics concluded the coronavirus has entered the second stage.
Not only the declaration of the second phase, the day saw three cases of transmission in Far Western Province alone. The two cases from India hint at the fact that at any time the transmission may turn worse soon.
The medical practitioners opine that one should be further alert not to let it spread and enter the third stage.
Is there really a chance of the stage transmission? What sort of preparedness is a must then? How can everyone contribute to making the situation better? Khabarhub talked to Dr. Anup Bastola of Teku based Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital and public health expert, Dr. Rabindra Pandey.
Dr. Anup Bastola (Infectious Diseases expert)
Nepal has entered the second stage of coronavirus transmission. This means, ‘ I came here from abroad, I was infected before, now, I have transmitted it to another person who came into contact with me.’ Corona infection is found in the people who had not been outside the country. This is the second stage.
Similarly, the third phase refers to the stage when you get transmitted despite not going anywhere. When it spreads everywhere as a pandemic it’s the fourth stage of transmission.
The government is doing contact tracing. The difficulty lies in identifying the people who have come from India. Many people have used land route while coming from India. It has made tracing difficult. Now there should be a better arrangement of quarantine and isolation facilities. Those crossing the border and entering homeland should be kept in quarantine. Priority should be given in the corona test of such returnees.
Most important of all is to abide by the government directives relating to ‘lockdown’
Sadly, even in the capital city people are seen strolling in the streets in the evening. I have heard that even the foreign returnees are also seen meeting the people irrespective of the fact that they may turn disease carriers.
We have to be a skeptical of every other person and maintain social distance when out from the home.
Though the disease has entered the second stage here, there are some measures that can prevent it from becoming pandemic. Provided everyone cooperates with the directives, we can prevent it from becoming pandemic.
Even the test of the returnees bears corona negative result, they should strictly be kept in the quarantine. They may show coronavirus symptoms in a 14-day quarantine.
We have been using all precautions suggested by WHO while examining the patients. We use WHO standard PPE, I lead the team there, yet, while at home I maintain distance with my family members.
I know the PPE safeguards us from corona, yet I maintain social distance. Social- distancing is one of the preventive precautionary measures.
We are friendly to the patients. We update their health status regularly. To help them get rid of loneliness, we have been providing them internet facilities there.
Dr. Rabindra Sameer (Public Health Expert)
There are four stages of corona transmission. We were in the first stage here till we had 6 corona positive cases. Now there are nine cases including one local transmission case, and we have said we are in the second stage.
When the number of cases from returnees becomes very high, there is a big chance of second stage transmission. So far the corona test is very limited. The infected ones are isolated.
In the third case of transmission, we do not know the carrier and the victim of the virus. In other words, who transmitted who is still unknown.
It’s like a spread in the mass.
The fourth stage of transmission is the status when the pandemic is spread all over the communities.
The government had issued directives to control the epidemic at the first stage, yet the country saw the second phase.
Now the government has enforced double lockdown. The movement from one local level to another is strictly restricted. If that goes effective, the transmission risk becomes less.
Two home comers from India turned corona positive. I saw and read about thousands of people crowding in the border. They were chanting slogans in the crowd, they lived together, they slept in dormitories or halls. This made all of them vulnerable.
They all should be kept in quarantine and they should be tested against coronavirus.
Coronavirus has entered the second phase in Nepal. All of us should be conscious not tl let it enter the third phase.
Far western Province is most vulnerable from this point of view. There is a large number of returnees from India. There is a risk of pandemic explosion.
The government should enforce double lockdown more effectively in that province. All India returnees should be kept quarantined. Nepal will be in a difficult situation provided it has to face the third phase of corona transmission.
For the negligence of the first and second phase transmission there, Italy had to face such tragedy. Italy reacted late, in the third stage transmission, it was too late and could not face a pandemic.
We have got enough time to learn from the experience of our neighbors and friends. To prevent the third phase pandemic, the government, each individual, each level of government, political parties and civil society members should work together to identify, convince and keep the returnees in quarantine.
We are vulnerable due to the open border and dependency on India. Nepali nationals stranded at border points should be brought back home and quarantined. We should seal the border preventing Indian and Chinese nationals from entering here. This only can ensure our safety.
Third stage transmission will be too painful for us. It will be worse than in Italy.
We should act now: better late than never.