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Avoid visiting hospitals for minor check-ups: Medics



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By Arpana Adhikari

Kathmandu, Mar. 18: Doctors associated with the National Doctors Association (NDA) have urged people to avoid visiting hospitals except for emergency cases as a public health tactic to slow down the transmission and spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
At a time when COVID-19 is widely spreading across the globe, the doctors working in the frontline have asked the people not to visit hospitals and clinics for general check-ups.
A delegation of NDA, which had a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Iswar Pokhrel, who is also the coordinator of the high-level committee formed for the prevention and control of COVID-19 on Tuesday, made the appeal.
Patients visiting hospitals are always at a high risk of transmitting contagious illness like coronavirus while the healthcare profession also bears a disproportionate risk, said Dr Raksha Shrestha, a central member of NDA.
“So controlling overcrowd in hospitals can keep safe both the patients and healthcare providers from virus transmission,” she said.
Dr Shrestha of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital Mahargunj shared the TUTH was still flooded with patients. “This poses a risk for both the healthcare professionals and patients.”
The NDA has also asked the government to make hospitals of all States well-equipped with all necessary

equipment like personal protection equipment (PPE) and sufficient diagnostic kits to battle the possible outbreak of the disease.
“The government must form a throat swab collection centre at each hospital so that the suspected patients don’t have to travel all the way to Teku-based Public Health Laboratory to confirm their disease. While travelling to the lab, the suspected person may come in contact with many people in public places and vehicles.”
Suspecting that there might be cases of undiagnosed COVID-19, the doctors also asked the government to encourage people to go through the lab test if they suspected to have infected with the disease. She informed that tests of only about 500 suspected COVID-19 patients were carried in Nepal by now and there was not a situation to say that the country was totally free from the COVID-19 patients.
The doctors also asked the government to expand the lab at all seven States so that the person suspected with the disease did not have to travel to Kathmandu for the test, which also posed threats of public transmission of the deadly disease.
Dr Shrestha said during the discussion, the doctors came to know that the Teku-based path lab lacks sufficient pathologists. “So we also request the people not to visit the lab for random body test unless of any emergency.”
Considering the COVID-19 outbreak, the Medical Council has also postponed the medical licence examinations, which was scheduled for Saturday.
Responding to the delegation positively, DPM Pokhrel said the committee would hold discussion with the Ministry of Health and Population regarding their suggestions. “We are managing essential equipment like surgical masks, PPE and diagnostic kits for the treatment of COVID-19 patients,” the DPM said.
Dr Shrestha said, “Social distancing helps communities slow down the transmission and spread of the virus. Taking measures like working from home, shutting down schools, and cancelling large events can significantly reduce the risk of new infection.”