All 175 Nepalis rescued from China test negative for coronavirus

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) – A second test will be conducted again after 10 days.

All 175 Nepalis evacuated from Hubei Province of China have tested negative for coronavirus, the Ministry of Health Affairs said on Wednesday.

They were brought to Kathmandu on early Sunday morning and taken to the Nepal Electricity Authority training centre in Kharipati, Bhaktapur, where they are being quarantined.

Lab technicians from the National Public Health Laboratory had collected their specimens—nasal and throat swabs—for test on Sunday itself.

"No one was found to have been infected with the coronavirus," Khagaraj Baral, a secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, told the Post. "Their health condition is good and we will carry out a second test after 10 days and send them home if they test negative again.”

The incubation period for the virus, dubbed COVID-19, is at least 14 days.

Out of 210 specimens including those of 175 people evacuated from Hubei, only one has tested positive.

The World Health Organization's collaborating centre in Hong Kong had confirmed the virus in the specimen from a 31-year-old student who had returned from Wuhan on January 6.

The new strain of coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, in December last year, has so far spread to as many as 25 countries, killing at least 2,004 people, a vast majority in China, and infecting 74,185 others.

Of the 175 Nepalis who returned from China, 170 are students, one is an employee, two are visitors, and two are children, according to the Embassy of Nepal in China.

The Ministry of Health and Population has said that the specimens of crew members and security personnel who went to Hubei Province for the evacuation mission would be collected only if they developed influenza-like symptoms.

"Their samples will be collected only after 14 days," Mahendra Shrestha, spokesperson for the ministry told the Post. "The incubation period has just started and it takes time to develop symptoms. But we believe all of them are safe, as they had used protective gears during the evacuation process and none of the evacuees has tested positive for the virus."

Meanwhile, the six Nepalis who were prevented from boarding plane due to fever are said to be in contact with the Nepali Embassy in China.

Shrestha said none of them is infected with the virus. The government has so far not made any decision about their evacuation.