Coronavirus suspect goes missing

KATHMANDU: A Saudi Arabian man, who was suspected of showing symptoms of novel coronavirus infection, has gone missing from Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku.

The man, who had arrived in Nepal, after a stopover in China’s airport, had complained of cough and fever. “His condition was not serious but it was necessary to keep him under observation,” said Mahendra Shrestha, spokesperson for the health ministry.

The man, according to Shrestha, had refused to stay in the hospital. “Health workers at the hospital couldn’t use force because he only spoke Arabic and they had problems communicating with him. But he later fled. We have not been able to trace him,” Shrestha said.

The government can forcibly quarantine anyone suspected of showing symptoms of coronavirus. It can also send people into isolation if they pose a threat. “We’ll use police to keep such people under observation if they do not voluntarily agree to be quarantined,” said Shrestha. The Infectious Disease Act allows the government to penalise patients who do not follow government’s instructions.

Nepal has so far conducted 20 tests for coronavirus, of which one has tested positive.

Three people suspected of contracting the disease have been admitted to STIDH. “A Chinese and two Nepalis, who returned from China, have been admitted to the isolation ward,” said STIDH Spokesperson Dr Anup Bastola. The hospital is awaiting their laboratory reports.