Nepal | July 09, 2020

Govt allays fear of coronavirus in Sindhupalchowk

Sabitri Dhakal
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Kathmandu, February 12

Don’t panic, it’s not novel coronavirus infection! That’s the government’s message to the public who has been fretting since it was reported that hordes of people in Jugal Rural Municipality in Sindhupalchowk were detected with coronavirus-like symptoms.

Panic spread in the rural municipality, located around 160 km north-east of Kathmandu, after 290 people in Ward 3, known as Gumba village, complained of cough, high fever, and breathing difficulty. These symptoms, seen since Monday, were consistent with the deadly COVID-19 that has killed over 1,100 and infected more than 42,200, mostly in China.

“At least one person from each of around 250 households in the village has fallen ill. Some of the patients are vomiting and a few have complained of breathing difficulty. But their lungs are not infected,” said Dr Pitambar Khanal, medical officer at Jalbire Primary Health Care Centre who has been examining patients in the village, which is mostly inhabited by Tamangs and does not have access to proper roads.

As more people were detected with these symptoms, the local government yesterday wrote a letter to the Ministry of Health and Population stating the symptoms were akin to coronavirus and a special medical team be dispatched immediately to conduct investigation.

The news soon spread like wildfire on social media, causing quite a stir. Many even started saying Nepal was no longer safe from the disease.

The main signs of novel coronavirus infection are high fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

“Some of these symptoms like cough, fever and breathing difficulty seen in people in Jugal are similar to coronavirus. But even people suffering from seasonal flu show these symptoms. We have prescribed ordinary medicines like paracetamol and sent them home,” said Dr Khanal. “We need to collect their body samples and test them. We can’t say anything for certain until we obtain the laboratory report.”

The government has dispatched laboratory technicians to Jugal to collect throat swab and blood samples of patients. The samples, which will be collected tomorrow, will be tested at the National Public Health Laboratory in Teku. The results will be out within 24 hours after collection of samples.

“The public need not panic as the symptoms seen in Jugal could be of seasonal flu,” Mahendra Shrestha, spokesperson for the health ministry, told journalists today, rebutting rumours of coronavirus spread. “There is no transportation facility in the area, including air transport facility. And no one from the village has travelled to China.



A version of this article appears in print on February 13, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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