Following the COVID outbreak, scientists have warned that the monkeypox disease might strike Nepal at any time.
More than a dozen non-endemic countries have recorded monkeypox infections. The majority of instances of monkeypox have been observed in Europe and North America. Because of Nepal’s high mobility, any disease seen anywhere in the world, according to public health specialists, has the potential to spread here. It’s unclear whether the relevant authorities are taking this seriously.
No official agency has tackled monkeypox, according to a health worker at Tribhuvan International Airport’s health counter who declined to be identified. COVID-19 vaccine cards, yellow fever vaccination records, and polio immunization records were confirmed for people returning from Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The majority of monkeypox cases in Africa are found in isolated areas. Not only that, but the virus has been discovered in countries ranging from Belgium, France, and Germany to Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Although the rare viral infection is usually mild and most people recover in a few weeks, public health experts warn that authorities should not underestimate the risks of this odd illness.
According to Dr. Prabhat Adhikari, an expert in critical care and infectious illness, the infections should be contained before spreading to the general population. Every agency concerned should be notified, and the relevant steps should be taken. Government health officials admit that no one has warned them that the monkeypox virus may have infected the country.
“We are in constant contact with World Health Organization agencies but have not received any directives,” said Dr. Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the Health Ministry. “If the UN health organization issues any guidelines, we will notify our health agencies.” The UN health agency expects to find more cases of monkeypox in areas where the disease is uncommon.
Experts say the government’s tardiness shows that the COVID-19 pandemic, which killed thousands and infected hundreds of thousands across the country, was not learned from.
COVID-19’s spread throughout the country had been ruled out by government authorities, including the then-minister and prime minister, before it struck.
The virus was projected to infect only a few dozen people, according to preliminary estimates.
“We are all aware of what happened,” says Adhikari, a critical care and infectious disease specialist. We do what we do because our fundamental purpose is the health of the people and the country.
The country was plagued by a second wave of sickness in April 2021, and all of the facilities designated for COVID-19 therapy were overrun. As a result of the absence of treatment, hundreds of individuals perished. Health ministry officials encouraged the public to only go to the hospital if they were unconscious.
Before the third wave of the pandemic arrived in the country, health ministry authorities tested swab samples from sick people whose S-gene targets were confirmed to be negative.
SARS-CoV-2 Omicron may have infected those who tested positive for the S-gene target, but officials were unable to intervene. Until that moment, the virus strain had spread widely across the country.
Authorities were powerless to stop the disease’s spread. Experts believe that if the virus had been as lethal as the Delta strain, which killed roughly 8,000 individuals during the second wave of infection, many more people would have died.
Many medical experts feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep a lookout for diseases spreading around the world, assess the risks, and plan for an outbreak if one arises.
According to infectious disease expert Dr. Biraj Karmacharya, when it comes to planning, authorities must be informed of the hazards and suitable actions must be taken. “It’s their job,” as far as I’m concerned.
Doctors believe that healthcare workers should be educated on the risks, symptoms, and treatment options related to the illnesses of their patients. If there is a scarcity of testing reagents in the country, it should be addressed.
According to Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the Clinical Research Unit at Kathmandu’s Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, “the chances of misdiagnosis with monkeypox virus infection are considerable because symptoms are similar to chickenpox or smallpox.” It will be too late to notify health personnel and begin preparations after the disease has entered the country. Based on our personal experience with the Omicron outbreak, monkeypox could spread across the country before we know about it.
Patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant had already arrived in Nepal before the WHO declared the virus a cause for concern.
High fever, swollen glands, muscle, and joint aches and pains, and intense exhaustion are all symptoms of the monkeypox virus. One in every 10 people infected with the monkeypox virus dies. Doctors commonly believe that the sickness can be controlled by limiting one’s contact with others and keeping oneself clean.