Kathmandu, Apr. 24: Nepali Army (NA) has established telephone contacts with 24,859 people, who had purchased new SIM cards after returning to Nepal from abroad including India, to trace coronavirus cases. Establishing a separate call centre on April 9 at the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre-Operation (CCMC-Ops) office set inside the Rangers Battalion in Chhauni, IT wing of the NA had begun contact tracing of the people who had returned home from abroad. The government on March 29 had decided to establish the CCMC-Ops, as an execution agency for every decision taken relating to the COVID-19. Receiving data from Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, the Security-Ops under the CCMC-Ops, has collected information that 64,000 mobile SIM cards were issued in 10 days, from March 14 to 23, just a day before the nationwide lockdown was enforced on March 24. The 64,000 SIM cards were issued from Nepal Telecom, the state-run telecom and Ncell, the private telecommunication service in Nepal. However, the records from the Smart telecom company have not been made available to the CCMC-Ops office. Brigadier General and Director at the Directorate of Public Relations and Information Bigyan Dev Pandey said that of the total issued SIM cards, the call centre of the CCMC-Ops has so far established telephone contacts with 24,859 as of Wednesday morning (April 22). In 14 days, over a thousand other phone contacts were made but the people didn’t answer or receive the phone calls, according to the CCMC-Ops. Of the total established phone contacts, 843 people who had received their phone calls informed that they had returned
to Nepal before the lockdown was imposed in Nepal. Of them, 39 people had complained that they had experienced COVID-19 symptoms. As per the state-wise record of the total telephone contacts made by the NA, 26 returnees hail from the State 1, 25 from the State 2 and 111 from Bagmati State. Likewise, 71 returned in Gandaki State, 267 in State 5, 29 in Sudurpachim State and 314 in Karnali State were traced. Among the total SIM cards, 20,000 SIM cards were issued by Nepal Telecom and 44,000 by Ncell. According to Pandey, besides CCMC-Ops, the Ministry of Health and Population and Nepal Police were also doing their separate contact tracing. According to the CCMC-Ops, the cases traced in Bhulke of Triyuga Municipality-3 in Udyapur district were also traced with the help of telephone contacts and when the people of the area informed about the incident to the call centre. On April 17, 12 people (11 Indians and a Nepali citizen) tested positive for COVID-19 there.