The Sudurpaschim Province has launched preventive measures against the possible risk of ‘Omicron’ variant of COVID-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already warned that the new variant poses very high risk globally, declaring it as the ‘ variant of concern’.
The Sudurpaschim Health Directorate has said surveillance has been enhanced along the Nepal-India border points in the Province bearing in mind the high risk of COVID-19 latest strain classified as B.1.1.529. “The risk from the new variant prevails high in the Province as it shares the border with India,” the Directorate said. If the new variant is spread in neighbouring India, the Suduraschim falls under the greater risk of it and health desk has been set up along the border points, it is said.
Gaddachauki, Trinagar, Jhulaghat, and Pulghat remain as the major points along the Nepal-India border in the Province and peoples movement via these points is relatively high than other entry points. “It will take no time for the variant to spread in Nepal if it enters the country. So we have ensured COVID-19 test facility and vaccination along the borders,” said Directorate chief Dr Gunaraj Awasthi.
During the first wave of COVID-19, the test coverage was escalated in the Province and during the second wave, the oxygen supply system was boosted and the Province is learnt to have prepared to further respond to the new variant being based on its effects. “We are waiting for the direction from the federal line ministry (Ministry of Health and Population) to take measures ahead against the new variant of COVID-19,” said Awasthi.
He further explained that they have set a target to vaccinate all eligible citizens above 18 against COVID-19 by mid-December and declare the Province fully-vaccinated zone for COVID-19. All eligible citizens here have been urged to take the jab against the disease with priority as the vaccine supply is sufficient.
The Province Government has urged the public for the mandatory use of mask and hand-sanitizer, practice of physical distancing and regular handwashing with soap and water as preventive measures against the infection.
To date, 48,039 people have been confirmed to have been infected by COVID-19 in the Province that comprises nine districts while 609 have succumbed to the virus. The WHO has advised Nepal to take high cautions against the newly detected variant since its confirmation.