Kathmandu city set up Covid-19 operation center

    The Public Health Division of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has set up a Covid-19 operation centre at the City Hall in Pradarshani Marg to coordinate the contact tracing work in the city.

    The centre, which started its work from Monday, will trace contacts of Covid-19 patients, manage the infected people and keep track of the infection in all 32 wards of the city.

    Hari Kunwar, chief of the division, said the centre will mobilise 20 health workers f0r contact tracing.

    “The main work of the center is contact tracing of infected people and we will not allow the infected person to stay in home isolation,” said Kunwar.
    Meanwhile, some city officials have serious doubt that the centre will be effective with no place to isolate the infected people.
    Although Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya had announced plans to build integrated isolation facilities for 5,000 infected people on August 10, it is still unclear when or where those facilities will be built. 

    Kunwar said they have tentative locations for the isolation facilities, including at the Exhibition Hall in Bhrikutimandap, guest houses in Sundhara and a government building inside Baisdhara Park in Balaju. There has been no confirmation of the location as of yet.

    Meanwhile, the coronavirus cases in Kathmandu is increasing by the day. Out of 326 new cases reported in Kathmandu Valley in the past 24 hours, 293 cases were from Kathmandu district. So far, the Valley has reported over 8,000 cases of coronavirus infection, many of these cases are in Kathmandu city.

    According to Gyan Bahadur Oli, the Covid-19 focal person at the Public Health Division of the KMC, Kathmandu city has recorded more than 4,000 cases of coronavirus infection till Monday. 

    Till August 17, the number of infected people in the city stood at 1,068 with six deaths. But in the span of just three weeks, the infection numbers have tripled while the number of fatalities have reached 27 deaths.   

    While the cases are rising rapidly, 414 infected people in the city are out of contact, Oli said.   

    Kathmandu Mayor Shakya himself is also down with the infection while over two dozen senior city officials are observing isolation at their homes.

    Some city officials say with the mayor and other senior officials out of commission, it is not clear who is leading the Covid-19 response. They have also questioned the reason behind the establishment of the Covid-19 operation centre.

    “The centre is just a front to recruit persons close to senior officials. They didn’t even consult the ward representatives before deciding to set up the centre,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

    Even Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi was unaware about the centre.

    “While the mayor is in home isolation, I was not informed about the centre. I should have been consulted regarding the issue” said Khadgi, expressing her dismay.

    “This crisis can’t be handled by a single person. But there is no culture of teamwork in the city office.”

    Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak

    UPDATED as of September 8, 2020

    What is Covid-19?
    Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. 

    How contagious is Covid-19?
    Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.

    Where did the virus come from?
    The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.   

    What is the current status of Covid-19?

    The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 27,427,986 people with 895,251 deaths and 19,481,282 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 4,276,777 with 72,809 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 298,903 confirmed cases with 6,345 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 47,236 cases with 300 deaths.

    How dangerous is the disease?

    The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk. 

    How do I keep myself safe?
    The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.

    Is it time to panic?

    No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.