The Covid-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC) concluded a day before the prohibitory order was enforced in the Kathmandu valley that it was critical to sever the pandemic’s chain, so there was no choice but to enforce the prohibitory order or lockdown in areas reporting a high number of Covid-19 cases.
Many public health experts, however, believe that simply limiting mobility would not be enough to split the chain.
The prohibitory order, according to Dr. Anup Subedee, an infectious disease specialist, is in place to slow the spread of coronavirus infection in the population. However, simply enforcing the order and sitting idly may be a severe mistake.
According to him, the Ministry of Health and Population, local governments, and the general public must all work together to stop the spread of the disease. “During the time of the prohibitory order, the tests should be performed in large numbers, with an emphasis on touch tracing,” he adds.
To do so, he recommends that the District Public Health Office and local municipalities increase the number of tests by using contact tracing to identify potential infected individuals.
Another public health expert, Dr Sameer Mani Dixit, echoes Subedee’s point, saying, “The main thing is to avoid people gathering, to maintain social distance, and to use a mask and sanitizer by every person.”
Avoid making the same errors
During the previous year’s lockout, the main roads and highways seemed deserted, but the inner roads were clogged. Similarly, during last year’s lockdown, scenes of people gathering in the neighborhood, ambulances transporting the general public, high-ranking and government officials traveling without doing any required work, and a number of people entering the Kathmandu valley on the advice of leaders and government officials were popular.
Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, an infectious disease specialist at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, says the situation would not be managed if the same trend continues, even if the prohibitory order is extended. Pun warns that once the prohibition order is lifted, the infection rate could skyrocket.
Based on previous experience, it appears that enforcing the prohibitory order for an extended period of time is difficult due to socioeconomic issues. Instead of expanding the prohibition every week, Pun suggests that this time be used to concentrate on everything from personal behavior changes to increasing the number of quarantine and isolation centers.
In the entire Kathmandu valley, there is currently only one 50-bed group isolation center in Kirtipur. The old isolation centres in Bhaktapur and Lalitpur are being prepared for reuse, according to chief district officers.
Is it really too late?
Even after the end of the lockdown last year, when people were adopting safety precautions, an average of 0.6 people were infected from one infected person, according to a CCMC official. However, since people are not adhering to health guidelines, the virus is now spreading from one infected person to an average of 2.3 people.
After the new variant was discovered in Nepal, the infection’s spread exploded from April 14 to April 24. Not only is the infection rate that, but so is the death rate. According to the CCMC’s report, 12.5 percent of those who underwent PCR tests received positive results, with one percent of those who tested positive dying.
Oxygen, intensive care units, and ventilators are all in short supply in Valley hospitals. The triple mutant coronavirus, which has been found in various parts of India, is thought to have spread to Nepal as well. However, it has yet to be checked and confirmed.
“Serious steps should have been taken as early as the third week of March,” says public health expert Dr Babu Ram Marasini. “However, our systems have only recently warmed up, so it is clear that past errors are beginning to repeat themselves.”
To keep the situation under control, Marasini believes that everyone must work together. According to him, the Ministry of Health and Population should prioritize oxygen and ICU beds. It was essential to track the fever by stationing health workers in different locations. In addition, the samples of potential infected people must be screened right away. Similarly, if the infection rate is higher, population testing should be done, according to Marasini.
Dr. Krishna Prasad Paudel, Director of the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD), says that attempts are being made to increase the number of beds in hospitals. Bir Hospital, Kist Medical College, and Kathmandu Medical College are among the options being considered.
It is important to keep an eye on things
Monitoring the prohibition order’s enforcement, according to public health experts, is also important.
All businesses and shops in the Kathmandu valley, with the exception of those selling groceries and medicines, have been ordered to close for a week beginning April 29.
All types of conventions, workshops, cinema halls, party venues, swimming pools, shopping malls, entertainment venues, salons, beauty parlors, gym centres, sports venues, libraries, museums, and zoos in the Kathmandu valley have been closed as a result of the prohibitory order.
The Nepal Police, which carries out the District Administration Office’s orders, has stated that those who walk excessively and do not adhere to health standards will be detained. “Only the actions of the police are insufficient,” says Nepal Police spokesperson SSP Basanta Bahadur Kunwar. “Citizens themselves should be equally vigilant.”