By Ishwor Chandra Jha, Kathmandu, Aug. 26: With the increase of COVID-19 cases by three folds in the Kathmandu Valley in a period of 15 days, public health experts have estimated infection has entered the third stage, community transmission, and feared a terrible situation unless contact tracing is made effective and intensified.
Number of COVID-19 cases reached 3,702 in the Valley on Tuesday. Of them, Kathmandu has 2,955 infected, Lalitpur 463 and Bhaktapur 300. And all the infections are active cases.
Dr. Basudev Pandey, Chief of Infectious Disease Control Division, informed about a plan of micro management for contact tracing.
Over 200 infected persons are getting added in the Valley a day for the past couple of weeks and an infected is found transmitting the virus to 12 other persons in Nepal, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.
Given 200 additional cases a day, at least 600 persons should be in quarantine a day for getting their swab tested.
Instead of keeping themselves in quarantine, those who came in close contact with the infected keep hiding and stay away from being contacted. This has augmented the risk of spread of infection like a bush fire in the Valley, viewed Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson of Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
"Lockdown period was a chance to fight back COVID-19. We had to make a good and a lot of preparation. We are facing the consequences of our failure to make preparations," said Dr. Sharad Onta, a public health expert.
He said the situation had changed a lot now compared to the one when infection would be found only in those who came from abroad and were placed in quarantine here before the lockdown was lifted.
"There are indications of the virus entering into the third phase infection that is community transmission," he said, adding, "It calls for conducting contact tracing on a war footing."
Dr. Pandey, IDCD chief, said about 9,000 were traced as those who came in close contact with the infected.
Kathmandu Metropolis spokesperson Dangol said only a third of the traced have been identified and a few of them had stayed in the quarantine.
There are 18 local levels in the three districts -Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur- of the Valley, and as per the guidelines of the Health Ministry, metropolis has dispatched five teams for contact tracing, sub-metropolis has deployed three and municipality has mobilised two teams for contact tracing.
Dr. Onta argues it is impossible to control COVID-19 by mobilising only a team of a hundred people for tracing to identify those who came in close contact with the infected in a place where about five million people live.