Kathmandu, May 18
In the past few days certain cases of COVID-19 have come to light in which the patient didn’t seem to know from who s/he got the disease from. Health experts say this is a sign that the disease has spread in the community.
If that is true, the novel coronavirus disease in Nepal has reached the third stage, the first two being imported and local. In the first stage, people suffering from the disease are only those who come from abroad. In the second stage, those coming from abroad with the disease infect the locals.
The disease is considered to have spread in the community when patients don’t know who they got the disease from.
The first case in Nepal that pointed towards community spread of COVID-19 was the six-year-old girl who was admitted to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital for ENT surgery and was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease. Even the kin of the 29-year-old woman who died due to the disease didn’t know from who she got it.
Two persons who tested positive for the disease today — a 41-year-old teacher from Gulmi and a 38-year-old journalist from Bara — also have no clue from who they contracted COVID-19.
“We need to look at the transmission dynamics. Whenever the source of transmission is not known, we suspect the disease has spread in the community. Since coronavirus has infected a high number of people in many areas across Tarai, there is high probability that the transmission has spread to the community. However, the number of cases that point to the community spread of the disease are too few. We need to do random testing to ascertain whether the disease has reached the third stage in Nepal,” said Sujan Marahatta, epidemiologist and public health expert.
The first case of local transmission of COVID-19 was reported in the country on April 4 when a 34-year-old female of Hasanpur, Kailali, who had no travel history, tested positive for the virus. Before that patients of the novel coronavirus had
all come from abroad, the first one being a student from Wuhan, who recovered in January.
“With the rise in the number of cases it is time for the infection to spread in the community. We are collecting evidences to make sure of the community transmission,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
“Till now there are sporadic cases of coronavirus infection in the country. One of our teams is collecting evidences of community spread. As of now we can’t say whether or not there is community transmission of COVID,” said Samir Kumar Adhikari, assistant spokesperson for the health ministry.