First COVID-19 death in Nepal

  • Emergency ward, medical unit sealed
  • Four health workers quarantined

Kathmandu, May16

A 29-year-old woman from Sindhupalchowk district died at Dhulikhel Hospital yesterday of coronavirus.

This is the first coronavirus death in Nepal.

A press release issued by the Ministry of Health and Population this evening confirmed that the woman had died due to coronavirus while undergoing treatment at Dhulikhel Hospital. A source at the hospital told THT that the woman, who was gasping for breath when she was admitted to the hospital, was intubated, but she died while undergoing treatment.

Laboratory samples collected from the deceased at Dhulikhel Hospital had tested positive for COVID-19, but the hospital sent the samples to the National Public Health Laboratory in Kathmandu for reconfirmation. The ministry said additional tests confirmed that the woman had died due to COVID-19.

According to the hospital source, the body of the deceased was taken to Pashupati Aryaghat for cremation.

The woman, a resident of Barhabise Municipality, Sindhupalchowk, was admitted to Dhulikhel Hospital at around 9:30pm on Thursday with fever and respiratory problems. She died early yesterday morning, according to hospital sources. The woman had delivered a baby on May 6 at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital and returned home in Barhabise the next day.

Following her death, the hospital administration sealed the emergency department and its medical unit and quarantined four doctors and health professionals who had come in contact with the woman. The deceased’s husband and 11-year-old daughter have also been quarantined.

Laboratory samples of the deceased’s husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law have also been collected. Government authorities are also trying to test the woman’s baby for COVID-19.

According to Sindhupalchowk Assistant Chief District Officer Baburam Khanal, the local administration has sealed Ward 9 of Barhabise Municipality and wards 7 and 8 of Balefi Rural Municipality.

Khanal said the woman who had stayed in Balaju area of Kathmandu went to her home in Barhabise on May 7 and visited a local health centre on May 14 after developing symptoms such as fever, chest pain and breathlessness.

Health professionals at Barhabise advised her to visit Dhulikhel Hospital as her symptoms matched those of COVID-19, but instead of directly going to Dhulikhel Hospital, the patient had returned home.

Her family members had taken her to Dhulikhel Hospital the same evening after her condition worsened.

Khanal said she had used three to four ambulances and vehicles in the last one week and some other people had also boarded the vehicles. “We do not know who had travelled with the woman when she used the ambulances and vehicles. We are coordinating with other government agencies to trace the people who had come in contact with the deceased,” he said and added that the district administration had disseminated news urging the public to inform the local administration if they had come in contact with the deceased.

A source at Dhulikhel Hospital said the hospital safely wrapped the body of the deceased, but the hospital did not want to send its staff in the hearse to transport the body to the cremation ground.

The source said local representatives wanted the hospital to send the body to the cremation ground. “Later, we sent one of our staff wearing protective gear accompanied by a member of the deceased’s family, who also wore personal protective equipment in the hearse to the cremation ground,” the source added.

The hearse was escorted by a police van.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 17, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.