In Mid-April the District Administration Office in Kanchanpur sent all returnees from India, around 242 people at that time, to their respective local units after conducting rapid diagnostic tests. Only condition was that they spend 14 days at a quarantine facility at their respective local units.

The returnees, most of them migrant workers, had arrived from various parts of India and were kept at a quarantine center built in Mahendranagar-based National Secondary School for around one and a half months.

Similarly, in mid-June, 11 people sent home before their PCR test reports arrived tested positive for Covid-19 at Laljhandi Rural Municipality of Kanchanpur. They were staying in the quarantine center of Swotantra Secondary School and their report came out the next day they were sent home.

Till date, a total of 441 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Kanchanpur while seven of them have fully recovered.

Khagendra Bharati, Administrative Officer at Kanchanpur District Administration Office, informed that there are a total of 10,54 people are housed at 124 quarantine centers across the district as of today.

“But the number of quarantine centers is gradually decreasing as more people are being sent home each day. Five quarantine centers were emptied and shut today itself,” he said. Bharati added that one of the major problems faced by people at the quarantine centers was the lack of toilets.

“As most schools here have been turned into quarantine centers, such buildings lack ample number of toilets. Practising good hygiene is vital to avert the risks of contracting Covid-19, but the lack of toilets makes hygiene practice awfully difficult.” He added that no monitoring or survey of quarantine centers had taken place till date so as to assess the situation.

As witnessed by a lawyer who visited three quarantine centers in Kanchanpur yesterday, one such center in ward-12 of Shuklaphanta Municipality is currently housing 133 people including 13 that have tested Covid-19 positive in the same building.

The lawyer, on condition of anonymity, said that the quarantine centers were crammed, lacked basic amenities such as functional toilets, and people were not provided food. He also informed that zilch persons were tested at the quarantine centers unless they showed symptoms of severe health complications.

“Families of people housed at the quarantine centers would bring food from their homes otherwise there’s no food available there. The health risks posed by snakes, mosquitoes, and insects found in significant numbers at the quarantine centers are also a major concern. Moreover, influential people manage to get better and faster services whereas those without reach are languishing. The situation is so negligent that the centers can’t even be called quarantine facilities in its technical sense,” said the lawyer.

“People had not gotten any food to eat since the past four days at one quarantine center that we visited in Dadeldura. Those people did not have any family living nearby the quarantine centers and so they had no option but to remain empty stomach. Authorities concerned would not provide them food,” he said.

According to former director of the Department of Health Services, Dr Mingmar Gyelgen Sherpa, quarantine facilities built in most districts are problematic with the risk of becoming outbreak hotspots.

Cramped quarantine centers, delayed test reports, lack of coordination between government agencies are rampant in Kanchanpur, a rural district in Sudurpaschim Province.

In an incident of stress running high even among authorities, ward chairperson of Krishnapur Municipality-7 in Kanchanpur district fell unconscious and died on the spot, on May 26. He was involved in the management of quarantine centre at Mahendranagar-based National Secondary School. He is said to have died due to cardiac arrest.

Meanwhile, inundation triggered by incessant rainfall for the past two days has already displaced 60 families in Bhimdatta Municipality of Kanchanpur. The displaced have lost their property and rendered homeless amid a global pandemic.