Update : 1 June, 2020
In Nepal the numbers of COVID-19 positive cases is increasing gradually. On 16 May, the Ministry of Health and Population confirmed the first death due to COVID-19, she was a 29 years old postpartum woman. Since then eight people have died who have tested positive for Covid.
Till now most of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 are people who have returned from India or were in contact with the Southern borders. As of 1st June, there are 1,572(220 recovered) cases of active corona cases, 1,344 in isolation, and more than 199,100 in quarantine.
Case finding for COVID-19 is ongoing through different methods: Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) tests are being conducted for screening of potential risk populations and to identify risk areas. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to test RDT positive cases, those in quarantine, and those who have been in contact with a confirmed case. However, the total numbers of tests conducted are still small. – after more than two months of lock down only about 69,587 PCR and 111,109 RDT tests have been conducted nationwide. The Ministry of Health has announced that people can get a test if they want and pay for it, but availability is limited.
With the increasing cases and the deaths due to Covid-19, the government has extended the nationwide lock-down until June 14, making it even more strict. Amid strict lock-down, still large numbers of people moving into border areas and other places are being reported. The increased number of cases are mostly seen in Province-2, which is very much linked with the Southern border for daily requirements. Province-2 governments have set up several health desks and sealed borders, allowing only essential goods.
The effect of COVID-19 is affecting everyone worldwide. More than half a million Nepalis who are out of a job in various countries are crying for help to return to Nepal. Various relief packages for daily earners are being discussed in the parliament. Provincial governments are building up quarantine facilities to accommodate the increasing numbers of returnee Nepali workers.
PHASE Nepal’s Update on fighting COVID-19
Our health team has been working continuously in the communities to provide essential health needs to people in remote areas. We are trying our best to modify our strategies according to the present requirements, and procure and transport essential items to reach the project areas. As several international agencies are predicting to have more than 6,000 deaths from preventable cases (indirectly related to the Covid lock-down), our health team are working hard to avoid such preventable deaths of vulnerable groups. Here are recent activities done to reach to the community :
- In the last three months about 9,410 people have received service from PHASE remote health desk and health post. Until now none of the people examined by PHASE has come up with COVID-19 symptoms. But the first COVID-19 death case of Nepal is from Sindhupalchok, which is one of the PHASE working districts.
- In support of the local government, a total of 288 RDT tests have been conducted in PHASE working areas of Gorkha, Sindhupalchok, Mugu and Bajura. All the tests were negative.
- 24 people are quarantined in PHASE working communities Bajura, Humla and Gorkha, and they have been quarantined in coordination with the local government. They are being monitored by PHASE staff with strict precautions.
- According to the recent updates, since the COVID-19 lock down started, a large number of pregnant women are out of contact. The number of deliveries in health centers has decreased dramatically. Because of lock-down and fear, they are not able to reach health centers for regular checkups or safe delivery. In this situation our health team has successfully delivered 55 babies, including complicated cases such as breech and have continued to provide essential emergency treatments (including referring a patient with ectopic pregnancy), family planning services, antenatal cares , immunization and other services.
- Reviewing our health workers reports, contrary to other areas in Nepal, there has not been any reduction in numbers of women accessing safe motherhood services in PHASE Nepal working areas.
- To ensure protection of our health colleagues, we have procured personal protective essentials – N95 masks 845 pcs, hand sanitizer 90 bottles and surgical masks 5,985. These are being disbursed in all PHASE working districts.
- Community activities on COVID-19 awareness and precaution are being conducted regularly in most PHASE working districts.
- From the last two weeks, the government has provided permission to engage with agricultural and industrial activities with precaution. We are therefore trying to revive our livelihood projects, which have so far continued very low key.
Complying with government’s directives, PHASE Nepal central team have been working from home for almost two months. We are having regular discussions on how to make our work effective and are in regular contact with our colleagues in the communities, updating on current situations and their requirements. We would like to cheer and acknowledge our front-line colleagues’ efforts, who have been saving lives in this situation by continuing to serve the remote communities.
With almost two months of continuous lock-down, with below the average source of income, the communities where we reach are hard hit by scarcity on various daily needs and necessities. Join our initiative with your support to help prevent and respond to the needs created by the pandemic situation. Reach the remote areas of Nepal with emergency health services, please donate via our regular GlobalGiving Health Project Page clicking on the link below.