At Health at Home the phone lines open at 7am ever day. Within minutes the calls start coming in. Five volunteer doctors are online to take the average 500 calls a day from people all over the country concerned about coronavirus symptoms.
Dalle Momo, the dumpling company, prepares 250 meals a day at its central kitchen at Ratopul and distributes them to security personnel enforcing the lockdown at intersections across Kathmandu, to frontline health workers at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku, and homeless people in the Valley.
Zonta Club of Kathmandu also prepares food packages and has partnered with several NGOs to distribute daily 1,000 meals to daily-wage earners who are out of jobs. Each packet includes basic food items like rice, lentil, salt, sugar, tea, and oil.
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The private sector and non-profit organisations have all been stepping up their activities to help security forces, health workers and daily-wage workers since the nation-wide lockdown began on 24 March.
Bishal Dhakal, founder of Health at Home, says he started the call-in service since people across the country — especially those in rural areas with no direct access to doctors, decided to set up a telephone triage service so that people can get a free counseling from medical professionals about their symptoms. Health at Home partnered with Ncell so that the incoming calls can be free.
At a time when public concern about the pandemic is high the service has not only been a way for people to talk to doctors about their symptoms, but also a source of reassurance.
“It has become like a counselling platform,” Dhakal says of the telephone triage. “This has been a support network for people in that it has helped with people dealing with the anxiety and stress that they might be feeling during this time.”
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The call-in service helps screen potential COVID-19 patients for testing and take the pressure off of hospitals as they tend to get overcrowded with patients suspecting they have the coronavirus, which in turn increases the risk of infections spreading more widely.