Kathmandu, May 15
Eighteen new cases of COVID-19, including a journalist from Udayapur, were detected today, taking the nationwide tally to 267.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, new cases include eight from Wards No 1, 2 and 3 of Nainapur Municipality in Banke district, three from Dang, four from Parsa and one each from Kathmandu, Makawanpur and Udayapur.
A seven-year-old boy from Satungal is among those who tested positive in Kathmandu, while two children aged nine and ten have contracted the disease in Parsa.
The infected persons are said to be asymptomatic, according to Samir Kumar Adhikari, assistant spokesperson for the health ministry.
The new cases were confirmed through polymerase chain reaction method conducted at National Public Health Laboratory, Teku, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, and Bheri Hospital, Nepalgunj.
The rise in the number of coronavirus cases has coincided with the jump in the number of tests conducted using polymerase chain reaction method. Nepal has conducted 23,914 PCR tests since January 28. Of these, 7,016, or around 30 per cent, were performed in the past five days.
Since PCR tests have been able to detect more positive coronavirus cases, health experts have sought more of those. The government, however, has conducted more rapid diagnostic tests — 63,085 so far.
Health experts say the polymerase chain reaction method should be preferred over RDT for early detection and isolation of COVID-19 patients.
“RDT should be used to check how far the infection has spread. PCR tests, however, should be conducted among residents of hotspots and those living in high-risk zones,” said Anup Bastola, consultant tropical medicine physician at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.
RDT detects the presence of antibodies in the blood of COVID-19 suspects. WHO encourages RDT to establish tests’ usefulness in disease surveillance and epidemiological research.
“We are using RDT kits on those who have been in quarantine for about 14 days. RDT is being used to check the spread infection. PCR tests will also be increased,” said Bikash Devkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population.