New modalities necessary, say health experts

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Kathmandu, May 25

Health experts have said that the government should come up with new modalities to help prevent coronavirus transmission and ease lockdown.

“The government should come up with new models. Lockdown is not the only solution. As the coronavirus will not easily go away, the government should now come up with solid plans to ease the lockdown while saving people from infection. The government should come up with new guidelines with regard to assembly of people such as in banks, schools and restaurants, among other places. People need time to make arrangements as per the new guidelines to operate their business. Therefore, the government must act now,” said Dr Baburam Marasini, former director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division.

“The government should now allow transportation services in areas with low number of cases. Proper social distance should be maintained among passengers,” added Dr Marasini.

The number of coronavirus infections has reached 682 across the country with four deaths since January. Among persons who succumbed to coronavirus was a 70-year-old male. He was suffering from tuberculosis and chronic respiratory problems.

“The government should now start testing the elderly, people with chronic illness and vulnerable people to save their lives. Tests should be conducted using the polymerase chain reaction method. People have tested positive for the infection even after the incubation period of 14 days,” said a doctor on condition of anonymity.

“Hotspot areas should be sealed and areas with low number of cases should be opened slowly. There should be strict measures to stop mobility of people in hotspot areas. But the government must come up with modalities for a new normal life. We need to balance both the economy and health. Quarantine facilities should be properly managed and relief packages should be given to affected people. Contact tracing should be done and there should be proper surveillance. The public should modify their life with social distancing,” said Prof Dr Sujan Marahatta, epidemiologist and public health expert.

The government has tested a total of 51,642 samples with the polymerase chain reaction method since January. Experts say that the tests must be increased to know the status of infection. Looking at the number of infections, the lockdown should be eased. Lockdown is not a solution,” said Dr Marahatta.

The government had decided to extend the nationwide lockdown to snap the chain of transmission of coronavirus till June 2.

“The government should now come up with modalities for easing the lockdown. People will start losing their lives from other diseases as continuous lockdown will have a negative impact on their lives. There are chances for people suffering from malnutrition,” said Dr Marasini.

“Within this time we seriously need to strengthen our health care system. The lockdown should be eased in areas with lower number of cases and the economy generated from those areas can be used in areas with larger number of cases. There should be proper coordination between the provinces and local level. If we work jointly then we can still fight COVID-19. There should be availability of necessary logistic . If we ease the lockdown without such preparations then there will be loss of lives. We need to look at cases in the community and take measures to prevent further spread,” a doctor who didn’t want to be named said.

“The government should bring Nepalis stranded in foreign countries home. The Nepalis will come home after the restrictions on flights are removed. It will be difficult to manage larger number of people then. These people should be brought in phases,” said Dr Marasini.


A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 26, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.



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