Nepal | January 18, 2021

EDITORIAL: Take quick action

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All 125 persons must be sent to quarantines so that they can be treated in better heath facilities should they have contracted it

Police have been able to track down the whereabouts of 125 passengers who flew to Nepal by Qatar Airways (Flight QR 652), in which a 19-year-old girl student, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was also travelling. The girl who was travelling to Nepal from France via Doha has been placed in quarantine since she visited the Teku-based Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH) on Monday.

She is the second confirmed case of COVID-19.

The girl, whose identity has not been disclosed for privacy reason, was flying with 158 other passengers on Qatar Airways on March 17. The government has asked them to remain in self-quarantine for 14 days.

The police have already collected the details of the names and addresses of those people who were on the plane along with the COVID-19 patient. Police were able to establish contacts of those people, whose names and addresses have also been kept secret, with support from the local police and administration.

The police were able to collect the details of the 125 people from the Immigration Department at Tribhuvan International Airport. They have been told to immediately contact the nearest hospital should they show any symptom of the virus.

Officials at the Epidemiology Disease Control Division (EDCD) under the Department of Health Services have claimed that all of them are ‘fine’. If they develop any sign of the virus, the EDCD will collect their throat swab and blood sample for necessary tests. With the second confirmed case of imported COVID-19 in Nepal, the government has started testing blood samples of all people above 60 years of age who show COVID-19 like symptoms. Following the second imported case of the virus, the government decided to shut down its international borders and also decided to impose a nationwide lockdown, which is said to be an effective way of preventing the virus from spreading among large swathes of the population. A day after Nepal declared a national lockdown, India also declared the same for 21 days, beginning Tuesday. This will surely help prevent the virus from spreading in South Asia, the most populous region in the world.

Currently as many as 21 people, including the 19-year-old girl, have been admitted at the STIDH and Patan Hospital for observation of any virus infection.

But the most disturbing scenario at present is the actual health condition of the 125 people, who travelled with the girl who has tested positive for the virus. Those people must have dispersed in the villages or towns outside the capital, and they also must have visited their parents, relatives and friends since their arrival. What if they have contracted the virus and spread it to others as well? There are no state-ofthe-art health facilities outside the capital to deal with the virus as the hospitals there lack testing kits, reagents, sophisticated labs and skilled doctors and health workers. Though all the municipalities and even rural municipalities have started building make-shift hospitals for treating possible virus-infected patients, they are not up to the mark. What the government should do is immediately send them to the quarantine centres, collect their throat swab for tests so that they can be given timely treatment in better health facilities should they have contracted the virus.

All 125 persons must be sent to quarantines so that they can be treated in better health facilities should they have contracted it

Don’t mislead people

A pastor has been taken into custody in Pokhara A for misleading the ignorant people living in the squatter areas into believing that the coronavirus would not harm them if they put trust in Jesus Christ.

The pastor had been preaching about Christianity at a time when the country is in the midst of a lockdown for fear of an outbreak of the disease. The country gets to see such preachers at times of crises and calamities in the country, who try to take advantage of vulnerable groups, often with fatal consequences.

During the powerful earthquake in 2015, many people who had massed at a church in Kathmandu for the Saturday prayers were killed when it collapsed as the pastor had locked the door, saying Christ would save them. Just this week, dozens of people in Africa lost their lives after the pastor said drinking Dettol would cure them of the coronavirus. The virus is life threatening and has taken more than 18,000 lives worldwide already. So anyone who tries to play mischief by misleading the people into believing in supernatural forces and untested concoctions should be booked and meted out severe punishment.

A version of this article appears in print on March 26, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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