Shyam Bahadur Chepang from the area believes that the disease was spread during the weekly market when people mingled. “You go to sell your vegetables, and then return with the disease,” he said.
Simulatenous with the COVID-19 scare, measles outbreaks have also been reported from several districts including Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and the eastern Tarai. Health officials blame the restrictions on mobility, lack of public transport and suspension of vaccination drives for the sudden outbreak.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads through droplets after sneezing and coughing just like the COVID-19. Although about 100,000 measles cases used to be reported in Nepal annually till 20 years ago, it had dropped to 100 in annual cases in the past few years.
Lack of awareness about the diseases appears to be a part of the problem. Bhim Lal Chepang, who lives in one of the villages where the outbreak happened says most people in the village know nothing about the disease. “We do not know how it spreads, and we don’t even know if there is a cure,” he says, adding that most in the village still go to local shamans.
Hoping to educate the locals, Jhalak Maya Chepang, a member of the Prajapati Community Health Unit, instructed the villagers not to touch one another and warned mothers to protect their children from going out. Yet, many locals are not following instructions.
Has Nepal’s lockdown postponed COVID-19?, Sudyumna Dahal