It is tormenting that the Kathmandu Valley has continued to record a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in recent times. Some 400-600 new coronavirus patients have been detected in this densely populated valley on a daily basis. This figure is quite alarming as it accounts for well over 47 per cent of the total nationwide infections diagnosed each day. The data maintained by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) shows that the valley saw a total of 11,139 cases of COVID-19 until Saturday (September 12), with Kathmandu district alone having a whopping 9,103 cases. This is indicative of the fact that the valley, as predicted by experts of contagious diseases, may turn out to be a coronavirus hotspot soon if more stringent measures are not taken to rein in the pandemic.
Another alarming aspect is that the killer virus disease is being diagnosed among those who have never visited any contagion-affected area and come in close contact with the infected. This clearly hints that the virus is already in the early stage of community transmission. Even high-level officials at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Department of Health Services have acknowledged this. Keeping this in view, the government has ramped up testing in the valley. The frontline workers, especially healthcare workers and security personnel, and their family members, have been among the victims of the coronavirus. It is also noteworthy that about 25 per cent of the people infected with the virus have symptoms while the remaining 75 per cent have remained asymptomatic. In the absence of adequate hospital beds and isolation centres, many patients with symptoms have been forced to stay at home isolations.
Needless to say, people with underlying health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart, kidney, liver and lung ailments are at higher risk of being infected with the contagion as compared to others. Realising the gravity of this problem, the MoHP has managed to refer the infected people having symptoms and those asymptomatic to the hospitals dedicated to COVID-19. Since the coronavirus spreads faster by developing its chain, an effective contact-tracing and expansion of testing are imperative to control it. Isolating the infected persons is the most vital effort to break the chain of this pandemic. It is also essential to conduct serology tests to know if the virus has spread in the community or not.
However, the rate of recovery from COVID-19 in the country has recently been very encouraging. According to the MoHP, out of a total of 53,120 coronavirus cases detected across the country as of Saturday, as many as 37,524 patients have been able to defect the virus infection. The country had reported the recovery of a total of 1,354 cases on a single day on September 4. The trend of recovery increased to 70.6 per cent on September 12, with 852 recovered cases, from 58 per cent nine days before. Such positive information could help boost the level of confidence among the COVID-19 patients. Though Nepal is now reeling from a very difficult situation due to this unprecedented public health problem and the ensuing economic crisis, we may overcome them. What is essential is that the government must step up efforts and all the citizens must not lag behind taking precautions and following the health protocols rigorously.