Highlights from today’s Health Ministry media briefing on COVID-19

KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) in its daily presser updated about the COVID-19 situation in the country, as of today.

As many as 7,240 laboratory tests (through Polymerase Chain Reaction method) have been conducted so far in the country to detect COVID-19 infection in order to curb its spread. Out of these, 369 samples were tested in the past 24 hours.

Similarly, 12,192 Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) — to detect the presence of antibodies in the blood samples — have been run so far across the country. Out of these, 3,263 samples were tested in the past 24 hours.

Spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population Dr Bikash Devkota shared that a total of 19,432 tests have been conducted so far to scout those infected with the novel virus.

Though RDT has begun in most districts of all the seven provinces, the government is yet to begin this form of testing in eight districts across the nation — Taplejung, Ilam, Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Solukhumbu, Rukum East, Manang and Dolpa. Preparations are going on to start RDT in these remaining districts as well.

As of today, there are 4,901 people under quarantine in various facilities across the country and 103 are under isolation. Of those isolated, eight are in Kathmandu valley while 95 are outside. As the government has intensified the tests, the number of people in quarantine are declining.

The government-established helpline call-centres (1115/1133) have answered 2,879 queries regarding COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. Likewise, 804 new entries have been made through the government’s mobile application Hamro Swasthya and web portal covid.mohp.gov.np, taking the total number of entries to 18,434.

Six new persons have been added to the red-zone list in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 247. The contact tracing of these persons is underway, said Spokesperson Devkota.

Briefing about today's activities, Devkota said that 400 RDT was carried out today in Chhapkaiya of Birgunj and all results came out negative for the antibodies.

The government has approved the implementation of an interim directive which will distinguish the process and place of treatment of patients infected with COVID-19 and those visiting health facilities for reasons other than that. In line with this, 25 hub hospitals, 64 provincial hospitals, and 22 medical colleges have been provided with the permission to run COVID Clinic across the country. Likewise, 16 additional hospitals in Kathmandu Valley have been given the permit to run the COVD Clinic.

Keeping in mind the importance of transferring patients during this time of need, the Ministry has initiated a mechanism for the operation of ambulance service. Ambulances of Nepal Red Cross Society and of non-government health facilities with over 100-bed capacity will be brought into the central network and operated through the telephone line 102.

Virtual health cluster meetings will be carried out by MoHP to facilitate co-work between the centre, provincial ministries and provincial health directorates to manage various aspects of crisis management.

Similarly, as part of its action plan, the Ministry will broaden its testing capacity by orienting technicians working at the government and private laboratories.

Furthermore, the Ministry has urged local levels in the country to manage its health infrastructure in order to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Currently, there are 15 active COVID-19 cases in the country -- 2 in Lalitpur, 2 in Kathmandu, 2 in Baglung, 5 in Dhangadhi, and 4 in Birgunj. All of the patients have been reported in normal condition.

VIDEO: Latest updates on COVID-19 by Health Ministry