Update: May 12, 2020
Although the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections is still increasing worldwide, the large majority recover, and many countries are beginning to look at cautiously opening up again after strict lock downs. This is news of hope, and with following government and WHO advice, there is hope that Nepal will escape the pandemic, but at a price.
In Nepal, we are now in coming to the end of the 7th week of a strict Nationwide lo
ck-down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nepal saw the largest single-day spike in corona-virus cases a few days ago, with 17 people testing positive for COVID-19 in Province 1, taking the countrywide count to 134 (33 have recovered). Most of the confirmed cases are imported cases from abroad but the recent few cases also show that the infection has spread among the family members of the returnees. This sudden rise in the cases has given an alert to be more cautious about lifting lockdown measures. In Nepal countrywide, more than 17,821 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and about 58,543 Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) has been done so far. It is likely that the number of infections will still go up as there are more than 17,000 people quarantined and 153 in isolation.
The Government of Nepal recently announced an extension to the nationwide lock-down until May 18, 2020 and a ban on international travel until May 31st. All residents and visitors throughout Nepal are required to remain in their place of residence. All movement on the roads, by vehicle and on foot, is currently prohibited with very limited life safety exceptions.
With more than 20% of people under the poverty line, various forms of suffering and scarcity are surfacing. Especially those who are dependent on daily wage work, and those who need special care are facing lack of food, health and daily essentials. The Government of Nepal is in the process of planning immediate support for vulnerable groups and strategies to uplift the national economy.
PHASE Nepal’s update on fighting COVID-19
As an organization working for the well being of the community, according to the needs to the community, we have been continuing our health support in remote areas. Our community-based health teams are continuously working to identify or prevent COVID infections at the community level. We have are running the following activities in the communities:
- Continuing the most essential health services in remote communities, the PHASE community-based health team has successfully delivered 41 babies in Mugu, Bajura, Humla, Gorkha, and Sindhupalchok and a complicated case of delivery was referred from Mugu, who has successfully delivered a healthy baby.
- In Kathmandu valley, in cooperation with the Centre of Independent Living in Lalitpur, PHASE Staff have distributed food and essential medical supplies to 79 individuals and families of people living with disabilities.
- Through PHASE supported health posts and health desks so far about 3,300 people have received services for various essential needs like emergency treatment, antenatal care, family planning services, and other emergencies. Each of them received services with precautionary measures and all were scanned for any corona virus symptoms.
- According to our recent updates, there are 4 and 34 people quarantined in Kolti (Mugu), and Bhotang (Sindhupalchok) respectively, who have returned to the villages from the Southern border and Kathmandu.
- RDT tests have started in PHASE working districts as well. With support of government teams a total of 147 RDT tests were done which were all negative. So far there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in PHASE working districts. In all PHASE working districts, strict mobility restrictions are implemented. Only those with emergency requirements are allowed to travel with a permit letter issued by local representatives.
- Following the COVID-19 prevention guidelines, regular immunization programs have been resumed in Jima (Mugu) and Kolti (Bajura).
As most of the front-line health workers in remote communities are Nurses and Midwives, with their support we are able to ensure essential health services. To honour their vital role in this pandemic this year WHO has declared a year of Nurses and Midwives. We also would like to acknowledge the special role of providing care to mothers and children, and health advice for everyday problems. PHASE auxiliary Nurse Midwives are often the first and only point of care in their communities.