Nepal | January 18, 2021

Nepal vulnerable to new China virus, warn doctors

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, January 15

Doctors have warned that the virus responsible for the outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan could also enter Nepal.

The pneumonia is believed to be caused by a new strain of corona virus and has killed one person. Forty-one people were diagnosed with pneumonia believed to have been caused by the new virus.

A vendor gives out copies of newspaper with a headlines of “Wuhan break out a new type of coronavirus, Hong Kong prevent SARS repeat” at a street in Hong Kong, Saturday, Jan 11, 2020. Photo: AP/File

“The possibility of infection is high among Nepali population because of migration. People coming from China and those going to China from Nepal risk contracting and spreading the disease,” said Dr Baburam Marasini, former director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division.

The World Health Organisation has alerted Nepal about the prevention of transmission of the virus. But the country lacks proper health centres and laboratories for treatment and diagnosis of such highly infectious diseases.

“If anyone suffers from such infection then s/he should be transported in such a way so as to prevent the disease from spreading. But we even lack proper ambulance service to transport such patients. They should be transported in double cab ambulance, which we don’t have,” said Dr Marasini.

“Health desks should be set up at the international airport and land crossings to screen people,” added Dr Marasini. The Ministry of Health and Population is yet to appoint necessary manpower for the health desk at the airport.

“We need an isolated room in health centres for treating patients and to prevent health care providers and others from contracting the disease. Such patients need to be treated in an isolated room. No hospital has been designated to handle such cases,” said Dr Bibek Kumar Lal. People entering Nepal will be made to fill a new form to screen people with severe acute respiratory infection, added Lal.

WHO has also recommended increasing diagnostic capacity of laboratories. “We need at least biosafety level-3 laboratories to diagnose such a highly infectious disease. But there is no such laboratory in operation in the country,” said Dr Marasini.

“Anyone suffering from fever, having difficulty in breathing and respiratory illnesses should be kept in an isolation ward,” said Dr Marasini. “People prone to chronic diseases have lower immunity and are more vulnerable to infection. Others too risk contracting the disease,” he added.

A version of this article appears in print on January 16, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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