Nepal | November 26, 2020

Local levels’ role stressed to stem coronavirus spread

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Health experts have said the local levels must immediately act to curb the coronavirus spread.

As the number of infections surges daily, they say the local government should immediately start contact tracing and make arrangements to test people in their respective wards and municipalities.

“The local levels should employ volunteers for collecting data of those testing positive for the respiratory infection and then help trace their contacts. This will help know how much the infection has spread in the locality. As the government alone can’t control the infection spread, it is also the duty of the local levels to help the central government in the process,” said Anup Bastola, consultant tropical medicine at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.

Various European countries have again gone for a monthlong lockdown after a second wave of infection surfaced. Nepal too should learn from them, doctors say.

“As European countries have again opted for lockdown, we also need to learn from them. But the local model should be in accordance with our country’s culture and structure. The red zones should be identified, if necessary, certain restrictions should be imposed,” said Sujan Marahatta, public health expert and epidemiologist.

Health experts stress the enforcement of public health measures to prevent infection transmission.

The Ministry of Health and Population has been requesting people to maintain social distancing, practise hand hygiene and wear masks to prevent infection.

“Public health measures must be enforced. Those who are unwilling to follow public health measures must be punished as per the law. These measures should be followed in transportation, markets, shopping centres and health care facilities, among others. If we can’t do that, cases will increase in the days to come,” said Bastola.

Health experts warn that the number of infections is likely to rise in Kathmandu valley as people returning to the valley after celebrating Dashain.

Therefore, it is necessary for the local levels to act immediately, they say. Pointing out lack of oxygen beds in the hospitals, they say there should be provision of beds equipped with oxygen in hospitals for treatment of coronavirus patients.

“As the number of cases rise, hospitals should be well-equipped with oxygen beds. The Ministry of Health and Population should inspect and monitor hospitals both in the valley and outside. Ventilators which have not been in use in health centres should be immediately brought to the hospitals where there are high number of coronavirus patients seeking treatment. Also, health workers should be motivated to treat patients,” said Bastola.

Testing and contact tracing should be extensively done to stop the virus spread. Looking at the caseload, restrictions should be imposed, they say.

A version of this article appears in print on November 03, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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