Kathmandu, February 13
Three persons who were admitted at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku on the suspicion that they had infected with the novel coronavirus, tested negative according to the Ministry of Health and Population today.
Two Nepalis and one Chinese were admitted to the hospital after showing symptoms of the virus known officially as COVID-19. “The three suspected of contracting the coronavirus have tested negative,” said Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson for MoHP during a regular press meeting at the ministry. Shrestha also said that those three will be placed at isolated beds for a few more days so as to reconfirm that they do not carry the virus.
The ministry, however, said that they were still struggling to locate a Saudi Arabian man, who had gone missing from STIDH premises. He was suspected of showing symptoms of infection. “The government is serious about the matter and will make him undergo every test after locating him,” Shrestha said.
The Saudi Arabian man, who had arrived in Nepal, after a stopover in China’s airport around a week ago, had complained of cough and fever. But, he fled from the hospital after being taken there.
Meanwhile, the government said that it will likely bring back the 180 Nepalis stranded in various cities of Hubei province, including in Wuhan city, the epicentre of the virus. The government is set to send an aircraft with 17 crew members to airlift them.
“A Nepal Airline wide-body aircraft has been prepared to take off for Wuhan to airlift the Nepalis there,” MoHP Spokesperson Shrestha said. He also informed that all the crew members, including engineers, pilots and doctors will be dressed with Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) and utmost priority will be given to their safety.
“The plane will land in a separate place at the airport, and as the patients gets off the plane there will be five separate health desks where they will be rechecked for any symptom of the virus.”
They will be then transported to Bhakatpur-based Nepal Electricity Authority Training Centre where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
“The quarantine facility will have ample workers to feed them and provide them with internet, television and they will carry on with the daily work of the facility.”
The government has also prepared contingency plan, if the virus starts spreading inside the country. “The government, under the leadership of Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi, has formed a team to tackle the virus in case it spreads,” Shrestha said.
According to him, the government has made contingency plan A, B and C.
The rescued 180 Nepalis will be quarantined to prevent the virus from spreading, if in case they are infected comes under Plan A.
Plan B is about educating people, distributing protective kits such as masks, closing schools/colleges and asking various non-governmental organisation to work on the issue. Contingency Plan C would be the final approach taken by the government if the virus starts spreading and killing people. Authorities in the press meet did not shed more information about Plan C.
Shrestha informed they had allocated at least 200 isolated beds in various hospitals in Kathmandu Valley, to tackle the issue.
The COVID-19 which is believed to have originated in December from the Chinese city of Wuhan has killed above 1,300 people globally according to CNN.
A version of this article appears in print on February 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.