KATHMANDU: To date, there is no vaccine or medicine for COV- ID-19. Till now testing to identify the infected one is the only tool to slow and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

And it is medical frontliners like Pranav Kumar Yadav, 33, from Sinamangal who are working rigorously to conduct test on samples collected, making a way for identification of infected individuals, and a better perspective towards understanding of the pandemic.

Yadav had been working as a clinical microbiologist at the National Public Health Laboratory, Teku when the Ministry of Health and Population recently directed him to head the COVID-19 testing team at the newly established Koshi Hospital Laboratory in Biratnagar.

Yadav and his team reached the laboratory on April 9 and started their work from April 10. His team — which includes five lab technicians and four sample collectors — has till April 24 been able to detect 21 cases out of 28 from Udayapur. The remaining cases were detected by testing teams at NPHL and BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan.

“Testing is our window into the pandemic and how it is spreading. If these cases weren’t detected on time, it would have been a disaster. We are doing our best, working even odd hours to make sure we do it accurately and in less time,” shared Yadav in a phone interview. He had just returned from the laboratory when The Himalayan Times called him at around 9:00 pm.

Talking about the situation in Udayapur, he said, “Now Udayapur is completely sealed and contact tracing going on. Samp-les of those who had been in contact with the infected ones are being collected.”

Though his job is stressful and full of risk, Yadav says, “This is what I chose to be and this is what I am meant for.”

Explaining the risk, he said, “Death ratio is sky high globally and I working directly with the samples — it is like touching death every day.”

And to stay safe, Yadav and his team have been utilising standard protective gear, but, “we have to wear it all day and we can’t even touch it as we have to reuse the same PPE. It is really suffocating. We don’t even go to restroom; we wear diapers inside PPE.”

Also for their safety, the labs are being fumigated and sanitised daily.

Yadav and his team have been residing in a hotel as a quarantine measure. “It’s stressful being on your own after a long shift. It’s just work and sleep,” shared Yadav, who is also a gold medalist in Clinical Mircobiology from the Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University.

He is also saddened by the fact that he is not with his baby daughter and family. “I have an eightmonth-old daughter and I miss her a lot. Also I get haunted by memories of home. And this makes me more fear; I always feel — what if something happens to me? But I console my heart.”

Despite all these worries and stress, Yadav says that he is satisfied and happy that he is being able to contribute to the nation and humanity.

“My work has helped reduce the risk of transmission of this deadly virus and it’s the best feeling,” he shared.

Requesting everyone to follow the government directives in this situation, he said, “Please follow what the government has put forth as precautions.

Following those steps is going to protect us and keep us safe. If you all are okay, I too can return home.” — Raju Upreti