Kathmandu, January 21
The throat swab and blood sample of a Nepali suspected of being infected with coronavirus, which develops severe acute respiratory illness and can even lead to death, was sent to the University of Hong Kong, today.
“The samples were sent to the university laboratory, which is also World Health Organisation’s collaborating centre,” said Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Department of Health Services.
The 32-year-old student, who recently returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan, was admitted to Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital on January 14, after he complained of respiratory problems and inflammation in the throat.
He had also complained of mild fever. The person was later discharged from the hospital on January 17.
Doctors at STIDH had collected his throat swab and blood sample before he was discharged.
“The laboratory will send reports within two to three days,” said Dr Lal.
The decision to send the sample abroad was taken jointly by STIDH, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division of the government and WHO Nepal office.
“If a country lacks capacity to test such virus, World Health Organisation facilitates to examine samples in its collaborating centre,” added Dr Lal.
The samples were sent to Hong Kong as Nepal doesn’t have laboratory to conduct comprehensive tests.
The outbreak of pneumonia in China is believed to have been caused by a new strain of coronavirus. Total number of people diagnosed with the new virus has risen to almost 300, with cases confirmed in Beijing, Shanghai and the southern belt of Guangdong Province.
The new virus has claimed least six lives in China. Recently, Japan, Thailand and South Korea have also confirmed the first cases of the virus. With the disease spreading in Asian countries Nepali doctors have warned that it could also affect Nepali people.
According to WHO, coronavirus is a family of virus that causes illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
Common signs of coronavirus infection include respiratory complication, fever, cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Recommendation to prevent from coronavirus infection include washing hands regularly, covering mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs and avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness.
A version of this article appears in print on January 22, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.