Cargo trucks entering Nepal from India could increase coronavirus cases, warn health authorities

PTI
Kathmandu, Nepal Published: May 10, 2020, 07.52 PM(IST)

India-Nepal border Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The health authorities warned that cargo truck drivers and their helpers have been entering Nepal without undergoing proper health screening and reaching all major cities, The Kathmandu Post reported, as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 110.

With Nepal gearing up to ease the lockdown measures and allow factories to resume production, health authorities have warned that people entering the country in cargo trucks, especially from India, could increase the number of coronavirus cases, according to a media report.

The health authorities warned that cargo truck drivers and their helpers have been entering Nepal without undergoing proper health screening and reaching all major cities, The Kathmandu Post reported, as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 110.

The mayor of Birgunj Metropolitan City, Vijaya Kumar Sarawagi, told the newspaper that the number of cargo trucks entering the country via Birgunj-Raxaul border point daily has reached around 700 and each truck carries two to three people-driver and their helpers.

"We just disinfect the truck's wheels, windshield and the driver's seat and measure the temperature of its occupants before allowing them in," Sarawagi was quoted as saying.

"We cannot disinfect the people and they are reaching all major cities across the country." Besides the Brigunj border point, hundreds of cargo trucks are also entering the country via several other border entries such as in Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj.

"We all know that drivers and their helpers cannot stay inside the truck all the time," said an official. "Chances of the disease spread will be high when they come out and come in contact with other people," he said.

Representatives of local levels that share borders with India have asked authorities concerned to perform coronavirus tests on cargo truck drivers and their helpers before allowing them entry into Nepal.

"We have been prohibiting Nepalis stranded in Indian borders from entering the country to prevent the transmission of the virus. But we are not paying attention regarding the risk of the disease spread from the people entering the country in cargo trucks," the official at the Health Ministry told the Post.

Birgunj Mayor Sarawagi said that risk could be mitigated if the incoming cargo trucks are stopped at border points and the goods are sent to their destinations in domestic cargo trucks.

People who do not have high temperature and other COVID-19 symptoms does not necessarily mean that they are free from virus, making the disease difficult to diagnose without proper testing, health officials say.

Nepal is among the nations with the lowest number of coronavirus infections.

As of now 31 people infected with the virus have been successfully treated. The number of active COVID-19 patients currently undergoing treatment at different hospitals across the country stands at 79. 

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