Amid COVID-19 (Known as Coronavirus) colossal impact on several countries, the Nepali Government delays to implement necessary healthcare facilities to tackle the deadly disease.
Due to lack of human resources and critical lab materials, the Nepali National Public Health Laboratory can test only 500 individuals for coronavirus infection in a week.
The coronavirus test starts with ‘Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)’ technique, which detects small amounts of a virus’ genetic material. And, it takes 2 days to get the results.
The Nepali Government-owned lab also uses the same method but can only test limited patients as the method requires a lot of reagents, which are very expensive.
As the coronavirus has turned into a pandemic, the Nepali Government has to take necessary measures immediately.
“The lab capacity can be increased to 4,000 tests per week immediately with the adjustment of human resources and budgetary assurance from government,” said Dr Runa Jha, Nepal’s National Public Health Laboratory Director.
“We have already taken permission to procure crucial chemicals for 2,000 tests through a fast-track procurement process,” she added. “So, the Nepali Government should immediately simplify the procurement process as the existing public procurement is lengthy”.
As per Nepal’s 33rd coronavirus situation report, a total of 447 individuals were tested for COVID-19 in the country so far. Only one individual, a 32-year-old student, was found to be positive for the disease. However, he has recovered already.
The tested individuals also include 175 Nepalese airlifted from Wuhan last month.[MUST READ: US Government Provides Personal Protective Equipment to Nepal]
The Nepali Government has requested the Chinese Government to provide rapid test kits, which can detect the coronavirus within 2 or 3 hours. However, the kits are yet to be approved by the WHO.
The government has also planned to initiate 24-hours call service to help, support and advice the public regarding the coronavirus infection from March 13, 2020.
“The preparations will be completed by Thursday, and we will be able to operate the call center from Friday,” said Dr Basudev Pandey, the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division Director.
[MUST READ: Nepal Takes Drastic Measures to ‘Stop’ Coronavirus Spread
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a ‘global pandemic’ as the contagion has spread to at least 114 countries worldwide, infecting 126,369 and killing 4,636 people.
China, the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak, has reported 80,796 infection cases and 3,169 deaths.