The Coronavirus disease 2019, hereinafter referred to as COVID-19, is caused by SARS CoV-2 Virus and is the third recorded animal-to-animal transmission of a Coronavirus, after Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS, 2002), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS, 2012). The first COVID-19 case was detected in Hubei Province, China, on 17 November 2019. Since then, the disease has spread throughout the globe to the extent to be declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), on 11 March 2020. As of 9 December 2020, the number of cases stands at 67,210,778, including 1,540,777 deaths worldwide.
In Nepal, the first case of COVID-19 was reported on 23 January 2020. As of 9 December 2020, the total number of confirmed cases in Nepal stands at 241,995 and 1,614 deaths. Since the detection of the second positive case on 24 March 2020, the Government of Nepal (GoN) has taken several steps to control transmission and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the society, including enforcement of nation-wide lockdown, closure of international border, testing of suspected cases, isolation, treatment, contract tracing, and management of quarantine centres.
1.1 POPULATION MOBILITY MAPPING (PMM)
The Population Mobility Mapping was developed through an adaptation of IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and has been implemented as part of the response and preparedness plan to several outbreaks, specifically the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa (2014-2016), the Democratic Republic of Congo (2017, 2018-2020), Burundi, South Sudan and Uganda (2019), as well as the plague outbreak in Madagascar (2018). The aim of PMM is to understand the dynamics of human mobility and identify the most vulnerable, priority locations within and outside the border. The findings enable the Government, communities and various actors to prevent the introduction or to limit the spread of infectious diseases and other public health threats, directly affected by human mobility. The Population Mobility Mapping was selected by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) as part of the national COVID-19 Response and Preparedness Plan.
Specific locations to conduct the PMM activities were selected. The selection was based on three main criteria; a) existing knowledge on health risks and general epidemiological information, b) population mobility dynamics based on local available information, and c) accessibility and resources availability. Based on this, nine (9) Municipalities were identified in three (3) Provinces in Nepal:
I. Sudurpashchim Province
1. Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City (Kailali District)
2. Bheemdatta Municipality (Kanchanpur District)
3. Dasharathchanda Municipality (Baitadi District)
II. Lumbini Province
4. Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City (Banke District)
5. Krishnanagar Municipality (Kapilvastu District)
6. Siddharthanagar Municipality (Rupandehi District)
III. Province 1
7. Biratnagar Metropolitan City (Morang District)
8. Mechinagar Municipality (Jhapa District)
9. Suryodaya Municipality (Ilam District)
This report will present the PMM results conducted in Mechinagar Municipality, Province 1, between 9 and 13 October 2020.
1.2 MUNICIPALITY PROFILE
Mechinagar Municipality is located in Jhapa District, in the south-eastern part of Nepal. Situated in a plain (around 140 m above sea level), the municipality is over 450 km away from Kathmandu, the capital city. It covers a total of 192.85 sq. Km (see Map 1), and borders with Rong Rural Municipality in the north, India in the east, Bhadrapur Municipality in the south, Birtamod Municipality in the south-west, Arjundhara Municipality in the west, and Buddhashanti Rural Municipality in the north-west. According to the census in 2011, the population living in the area is 125,668 (63,372 men and 62,296 women). The main sources of income in the municipality are agriculture and business. In Mechinagar Municipality there are a total of 10 urban health centres, including four (4) district hospitals, one (1) Primary Health Care Center, and 5 health posts, for a total capacity of 19 beds. Registered health workers are 57, with 10 doctors, 5 nurses, 21 auxiliary nursing midwives, and 21 auxiliary health workers.
The PMM has four main objectives:
- Identify travellers’ profiles and mobility patters which have health related impacts both within and/or outside the country.
- Identify vulnerable places where travellers or mobile populations gather and interact with each other or with local communities, which are at risk of both contracting and spreading infectious diseases and other health threats.
- Identify priority sites with limited capacities to prepare and respond to public health emergencies.
- Identify priority public health actions and resource allocations, in order to develop action plans aimed at strengthening public health emergency preparedness and response capacities.