Reporting about coronavirus (COVID-19) puts us in a difficult situation – just like you, we are in unfamiliar territory too. While rumours about the disease’s occurrence in Nepal are rife, we are unable to locate exact sources – therefore, cannot confirm anything. When we follow up with doctors on the same, they deny any cases.
A valid argument put forth by a practicing doctor was that ‘coronavirus cannot be hidden from the public – if you look at nations suffering from the pandemic, their cases shot up within a week, or a fortnight. For Nepal too, it is going to be similar – a few cases will boom into a national crisis within a week or so.’
We trust the judgment – we trust that authorities and respected personnel have learnt from China and Iran. China, for one part, reportedly delayed informing the world about the outbreak before it was too late to contain, and Iran continues to hide the exact numbers of affected and deceased as it continues to fight one of the worst outbreak outside mainland China.
We have also heard cases where patients showing symptoms are being denied tests at the Teku based Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital. An incident report shared by Nischal Rizal reflects health personnel’s callous attitude towards the disease – prompting concerns within public towards effective containment of the disease.
Talking about the same issue, Dr. Sundarmani Dixit, a respected doctor on Tuesday said ‘he had referred three patients to the Teku Hospital, but they too were denied a coronavirus test’. “How can we say we have had only one case, if patients are being denied treatment?” asks Dr. Dixit.
The pandemic, just like it has in other nations, exposed fault lines in our health system – for example, in the United States, it reportedly costs USD 1300 to test for coronavirus – in Nepal, the test is free, but not easily accessible.
That Nepal’s health infrastructure is weak is not a surprise, and it will probably continue well beyond the pandemic passes. But what baffles most public is the state’s lack of preparedness – at a time when action is of necessity, we are still planning our measures and strategies.
Owing to our weak health infrastructure, the pandemic’s outbreak in Nepal could mean possible catastrophe – therefore our best measure is to practice caution.
Here are a few cautionary steps we can take:
- Have a plan to protect the elderly/weak: Most cases of deaths reported by coronavirus are of the aged and those who suffer from other health ailments. Therefore dedicate a quarantine section within your home for your parents/grandparents. As soon as even one case is confirmed – spring into action. Keep your parents/grandparents inside your home – do not let them get in physical contact with anyone, even yourself. Do groceries and other essential shopping yourself.
- Constantly wash/sanitize your hands – sanitizers are in shortage, we know. Soaps are equally effective.
- Maintain social distance: It is advised to keep at least 3 feet distance from others – avoid physical contact.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth as your hands may have touched contaminated surfaces.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, seek medical attention – wear a mask and visit your local doctor, who will then advise you towards your next steps.
- DO NOT PANIC: Perhaps the most important step is to not panic, or spread panic. Factually verify all information that is coming into you before spreading it with your friends and family.