Amidst increasing panic over a possible coronavirus outbreak in Nepal, Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Dr. Yubraj Khatiwada, who is also the government’s spokesperson said two things:
- There won’t be shortage of daily essential goods, and
- There is no case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nepal (yet).
Point no. 1 was made to discourage hoarding by the public – “hoarding goods creates artificial shortage, and is tantamount to a social crime”, he said. Point no. 2 was made to dispel ongoing claims that the ‘government is hiding cases of confirmed coronavirus in Nepal’. “The public is urged to not go by rumours”, the minister said on behalf of the government.
While the minister assures the public that there are no current cases, we fail to receive an update on the preparations made by the government ‘should an outbreak occur’.
While there is a lack of information available on the same, compiling a few reports, we understand the following preparations have been made so far:
- 5 Hub Hospitals and 13 key Satellite Hospitals with a dedicated space with isolation facilities.
- Continued thermal scalling and 24/7 operation of health desk at TIA.
- NPHL started for laboratory confirmatory diagnosis of 2019-nCoV.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is prepositioned at Patan Hospital (15), Sukra Raj Tropical and Infectious disease (5), TIA (5) and additional stock is maintained.
- MoHP is holding a high-level official meeting daily under the chairmanship of the secretory for close monitoring of the situation.
However, should an outbreak occur, the above mentioned preparations may not be enough – and in case that happens, China has said it will assist Nepal in overcoming the epidemic.
According to media reports, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, H.E. Hou Yanqi on Tuesday assured Nepal’s Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Minister Yogesh Bhattarai China’s support to Nepal in case a coronavirus outbreak occurs in Nepal. Reminding the minister that of the ‘80,900 affected in China, 59,000 have recovered and thousands of others are receiving treatment’, Ambassador Yanqi said China would lend technological, medical, and informational assistance to Nepal.
Similarly, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi over a telephone call with Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali thanked Nepal for its solidarity with China during the outbreak. “Yi commended Nepal’s well-preparedness to fend off the virus”, the press release reads.