Authorities have decided to close all educational institutions in Humla district after 32 students of a same school tested positive for the coronavirus infection.

A District COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre meeting, on Wednesday, decided to shut down schools and colleges as well as restrict the movement of outsiders into the district.

32 students of Mahaboudha Secondary School in Yalbang, Namkha Rural Municipality tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday. All the students, between 12 to 18 years of age, were living in the school’s hostel.

The school’s acting headmaster, Laxman Thapa said, “We had collected swab samples of around 100 hostel students. Those who tested positive are being kept in an isolation area within the hostel premises. None of them have symptoms of COVID-19 yet. Those who tested negative were sent home.”

The school had resumed its classes almost two months ago after conducting PCR tests of both students and teachers.

Normally, the academic calendar in the mountainous district of Humla starts mid-February and ends mid-November because of excessive cold. However, most schools opened from the third week of October this year after several months of delay due to the lockdown imposed to prevent coronavirus infection.

The latest school closure means possible cancellation of this year’s academic calendar, which could affect hundreds of students.

Meanwhile, the latest outbreak has also prompted the authorities to tighten security in border areas of all seven local units in the district.

“We have sealed the borders of Namkha and Simkot for three days. Outsiders will not be allowed to enter,” said Chiranjibi Giri, the chief district officer adding, “We are also operating a health desk to monitor passengers flying into Simkot Airport from Nepalgunj and Surkhet.”

Yalbang alone has recorded 56 coronavirus infections in the last four days.

The local administration has directed the District Health Office to collect swab samples for tests in order to curb the virus spread while the District Administration Office has requested for a helicopter from the provincial government to send serious COVID-19 patients to hospitals outside the district.

“We are coordinating with all the local units in the district to contain the spread of the virus. We have also expedited contact tracing in all seven local units,” said Giri.

Meanwhile, the District COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre has also decided to add ventilators in the District Hospital, manage district-level quarantine in Simkot Rural Municipality and establish a five-bed isolation centre and a 15-bed quarantine facility in each local unit.