By Ajita Rijal
Kathmandu, Feb. 17: The government has brought smiles on the faces of the nervous Nepali citizens and their families by bringing home 175 Nepali nationals, who were anxiously waiting for their evacuation from Wuhan, the epicenter of the Covid-19.
The Nepali nationals landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport on Sunday morning, one and half months after the outbreak of coronavirus, which WHO declared as a global medical emergency.
The 175 Nepalis, mostly students, were airlifted by a Nepal Airlines (NA) special flight that flew from Kathmandu to Wuhan on Saturday.
The rescued Nepalis expressed joy for being able to return home safe. Many of them took to the social media to post pictures of their anxious wait for the NA plane and their happy time of finally boarding the plane and expressed happiness of finally heading home. They thanked the government for the rescue.
Those rescued today included, 134 men and 41 women, including two children. The evacuees were taken by special buses to the quarantine set up at the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Training Center in Kharipati, Bhaktapur before dawn directly from the Tribhuvan International Airport. They will remain in the quarantine for two weeks.
Happy to be back
At the Kharipati quarantine, all the evacuees looked happy. One among them included Salima Kakshapati, said she was very happy to be finally in Nepal. “I was waiting for the day when the Government would bring us home and we feel secured, and here we are today”, she said. Another evacuee wrote on Twitter on Sunday, “ Finally arrived and settled here in Kharipati. The arrangements are much better than we had expected. Feelings of coming back home in such adverse conditions are beyond description. Thank you all concerned authorities”.
All the returnees have overwhelmingly thanked the government for the rescue and the facilities they have been enjoying at Kharipati. The social media on Sunday was flooded with messages of gratitude towards the flight crew, medical team, the health ministry and all the authorities involved.
At Kharipati there are 60 rooms with 199 beds. One room includes at least two to three beds at a distance of at least one meter, including intercom telephone facility. They will be continuously monitored during their stay at the quarantine and will be shifted to the Sukraraj Tropical & Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH), Patan Hospital or Armed Police Force (APF) Hospital, in case they show symptoms of coronavirus.
Likewise, the members of the flight crew of the NA aircraft that brought the Nepali students back home have been taken to another site at the Drinking Water Training Centre in Nagarkot. They include three pilots, two nurses and seven other crew members.
The people put under quarantine will not be allowed to meet with their family members or outsiders. However, the visitors' room will provide information about the people in the quarantine for the family members and relatives. A media room has also been established outside the quarantine premises.
A round-the-clock joint security provision has been arranged, with the control room overseeing the centre. The joint security team includes Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force, and the team is also working to spread awareness in and around the vicinity to quell any misconceptions about the quarantine.
Throat swab sent to NPHL
Later on the day, on Sunday afternoon, throat swab of all rescued Nepali nationals were collected from the quarantine centre and taken to National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) at Teku for examination. The results of the test are expected in a few days.
According to Dr. Runa Jha, Director of NPHL, the throat swab specimens have been brought to the Laboratory, and it may take up to four days for the results. According to Dr. Jha, those staying under quarantine, will need to undergo another specimen test after 14 days. Since they will need to be re-examined, the number of days they will have to remain under quarantine will now be 17 days.
Medical team under the leadership of Nepal Army doctors
The team of health professionals and medics deployed at the quarantine is led by Dr. Nabin Phuyal, a Nepal Army doctor, according to Sagar Dahal, deputy spokesperson at Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). Furthermore, the MoHP, District Health Office Bhaktapur, Nepal Red Cross Society have deployed 50 more medics after conducting a training on Sunday, according to Dahal. Also, 175 separate thermometers have also been provided to the returnees.