Kathmandu-Until June 26, the number of Covid-19 recoveries were higher than that of active cases in Kanchanpur, according to the District Health Office in Kanchanpur. The district did not record any new cases while the lockdown was in place.
But June 27 onwards, the district authorities in Kanchanpur allowed the operation of businesses and transportation services from 6am to 6pm. This has contributed to an increase in public movement, leading to a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the district, health workers say.
According to the record of the District Health Office, there were only 80 active cases in Kanchanpur before the relaxation of prohibitory orders. But by Friday, five days after the new lockdown rules were introduced, the number of active cases in the district had shot up to 113.
“Ten to 15 new Covid-19 cases are being reported on a daily basis with only five to seven recoveries a day. It seems that the rate of infection has increased after the relaxation of the prohibitory orders,” said Shivaraj Sunar, chief at the District Health Office in Kanchanpur.
According to the District Health Office, all nine local units are conducting antigen tests to trace, test and treat Covid-19 patients.
“Local units are conducting over 200 antigen tests on a daily basis. Antigen tests are being carried out in Gaddachwoki and Gauriphanta border points as well,” said Sunar.
Mahakali Hospital in Mahendranagar has also been receiving more swab samples for PCR tests in the last few days.
“Until last week, we used to test 30 to 35 swab samples a day but this week, we are running more than 100 PCR tests in a day,” said Keshav Joshi, PCR lab in charge at the hospital.
Out of 110 samples tested on Thursday, five tested positive for Covid-19. On Wednesday, four out of 61 samples tested positive for the virus.
“Individuals who are seeking to enter India in search of jobs are getting tested,” said Joshi.
Currently, two Covid-19 patients are undergoing treatment at Mahakali Hospital.
Dr Govinda Rokaya, the Covid-19 focal person at the hospital, said, “The bazaar areas are already crowded. Not many people are following health protocols even in public spaces. This is very dangerous and could lead to a rise in cases.”
In Achham, the district administration office has imposed prohibitory orders till July 5. However, market places continue to be open from 7am to 3pm every day. Public movement has increased during the opening hours, with people crowding public places, health institutions, financial institutions and offices of the local units.
With the decline in the number of tests conducted, the number of coronavirus cases has decreased but health workers say the number does not reflect the ground reality.
Dr Atul Bharadwaj at the district hospital says low numbers of testing and people’s hesitancy to come forward for testing are the reasons behind the decrease in cases in the district.
“There are only two Covid-19 patients in the isolation ward, which is a good sign. But the truth is there are no tests being conducted to determine the actual number of cases,” said Bharadwaj. “Cases are decreasing because fewer tests are being conducted.”
Health workers say that the infection rate will rise with the increase in the movement of people.
“People have begun returning to their offices and farmers are busy working in their fields without following health safety protocols,” said Bharadwaj.
Tek Bahadur Bista, the information officer at a PCR laboratory in Kamal Bazaar, has a similar view regarding the dwindling number of cases in Achham. He said the number of infected patients has gone down since even symptomatic patients have stopped coming for testing.
According to him, there are many symptomatic patients in the villages but they are reluctant to carry out tests.
“All 10 local units in Achham used to collect swabs for PCR tests. But we have not received any swab samples for testing in the last month,” said Bista.
According to Bista, the PCR tests of five Covid-19 suspects from Sanfebagar and five from Kamal Bazaar were conducted on Thursday.
“All five from Sanfebagar and three from Kamal Bazaar tested positive for Covid-19. This shows that the infection rate has not decreased in the community. The number of positive cases is dwindling only because the local units have stopped collecting swab samples for testing,” he said.