Critical hour: Preventing COVID-19 transmission in Nepal’s west
In view of the particular vulnerabilities of the Sudur Paschim and Karnali Provinces, UNICEF is supporting the Government of Nepal and partners to boost efforts to prevent local transmission of COVID-19
As the nation-wide lockdown runs into its third week, the Government of Nepal – at all three tiers – and humanitarian partners including UNICEF, have been gearing up efforts to prevent the local transmission of COVID-19 among communities.
Concerns are especially high in the Sudur Paschim and Karnali Provinces, given the number of cases that have tested positive in the former recently, and the high inflow of people returning from India and other countries into the latter.
To support provincial governments of both Sudur Paschim and Karnali Provinces in preventing infection and managing cases at this critical hour, UNICEF recently provided 60,000 surgical masks, 10,000 pairs of disposable gloves, 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizers, along with blankets, bed nets, packets of oral rehydration salts, as well as tents to establish fever clinics at the Seti Province Hospital and Birendranagar Provincial Hospital.
The supplies also included water, sanitation and hygiene materials - such as hygiene kits and water-purifying tablets and sachets, among others.
Another aspect of the government’s response has been the establishment of quarantine sites to isolate returnees from India and other countries. One such site has been set up on the Nepal-India border in Banke District to host a total of 181 returnees from India who made the crossing after the lockdown came into effect.
As part of UNICEF’s efforts to map existing quarantine facilities, including information on total capacity and conditions of these sites – together with disaggregated data on those being quarantined – UNICEF staff were recently part of a monitoring team, comprising representatives of the government and security forces and other partners, that visited the Banke site.
UNICEF staff were also engaged in monitoring and providing technical support provincial and local governments for a mass contact tracing effort conducted in Jumla District in Karnali Province and Achham District in Sudur Paschim on 7 April, where a total of over 550 throat swabs were collected from people who are quarantined and those who were in contact with them.
The samples were taken by airplane and helicopter to Surkhet and have now been brought to Kathmandu, the capital, for testing.