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Arun Sainju Bhaktapur COVID-19 Nepal Nepal volunteers News RNA-16

Nepal volunteers become local heroes during virus pandemic

Nepal volunteers become local heroes during virus pandemic

BHAKTAPUR: When the brand new mom died within the hospital final month — the primary particular person to succumb to COVID-19 in Nepal — her days-old child was moved to an isolation ward.

But the lady’s physique remained. Ambulance drivers and hospital staff, afraid of the contagion, refused to maneuver the corpse from the hospital morgue to the crematorium, the place it may very well be burned consistent with Hindu custom.

And so authorities known as upon RNA-16 — three males and a lady in signature blue vests, famend for his or her selfless volunteer work in Bhaktapur, a UNESCO world heritage website often called the “metropolis of temples” simply east of the capital, Kathmandu.

RNA-16 stands for “Rescue and Awareness” and the 16 sorts of disasters they’ve ready to take care of, from Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake to highway accidents. But their distinctive providers within the epidemic quantity to a a lot larger sacrifice, stated medical doctors, hospital officers and civic leaders.

“They are really our heroes and doing work that nobody is keen to do. When even well being staff are scared, they’ve dared to assist individuals within the pandemic,” stated Kiran Thapa, a metropolis council member.

They have acquired monetary assist from companies, and have been lauded by medical doctors and civic leaders for aiding a well being care system ill-equipped for the pandemic.

Since Nepal reported its first circumstances, the group has been tenting in a tent pitched on the roof of a hospital pharmacy in Bhaktapur.

“As quickly because the lockdown was declared, we determined to camp right here and assist out as a result of we had been anticipating an enormous circulation of individuals coming in for checks,” group chief Arun Sainju advised The Associated Press from their leaky tent.

Sainju, 31, is a security teacher at a college. He shaped the group within the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake. Sick with a excessive fever, he left his hospital mattress to assist the overwhelmed workers.

“I used to be separating the useless our bodies from the wounded ones and categorizing them for the medical doctors,” Sainju stated. “This is when my life turned, and I made a decision to assist individuals.”

Nhuja Kaiju, 20, is a pc operator at a authorities workplace, and Rajesh Gaiju, 28, is a historical past and tradition trainer. Only Punam Karmacharya, a 22-year-old nurse, has any formal medical coaching.

As the virus raged in neighbouring China earlier this yr, the group skilled with the Nepalese military to higher put together for the pandemic, together with tips on how to deal with viral samples and contaminated our bodies.

And when a lot of the metropolis’s first responders refused to move suspected COVID-19 sufferers, RNA-16 transformed a borrowed truck right into a makeshift ambulance and began fielding calls from round Bhaktapur and surrounding villages to choose individuals up for virus checks.

Apart from the tent they sleep in, they arrange two tents throughout the hospital grounds the place they and hospital nurses gather virus take a look at samples. Up to 80 individuals come to the hospital for checks every day. The volunteers assist them line up, gather data and take their samples.

Then final month, they had been deployed after the younger mom’s dying.

“When we reached the morgue, there was blood spattered all around the flooring and the physique was additionally not correctly wrapped. We needed to repack the physique in a physique bag, carry it within the automobile and drive it to the Pashupati temple for cremation,” Sainju stated.

Even on the crematorium, the workers wouldn’t go close to the physique, so the group loaded it into the furnace whereas the household stood at a distance. RNA-16, stated Sainju, had change into “the funeral procession for the girl.”

Afterward, they quarantined themselves for 11 days, throughout which Sainju felt fixed anxiousness.

His concern: In their absence, individuals in want of assist had been struggling.



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