Nepal | October 22, 2020

Flights from COVID-19 hit nations may be halted

• Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal given two days to decide as virus spreads globally

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, March 1

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has directed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to decide in two days on whether to halt flights departing for or originating from foreign destinations that have seen an outbreak of the novel coronavirus — COVID-19.

The ministry has given this directive to the aviation regulator to stop the spread of the virus in the country.

As the virus has been gradually spreading globally a high-level meeting held today at MoCTCA has directed CAAN to study and embrace international strategies implemented in the aviation sector to prevent COVID-19 virus or to reduce its effect.

Based on the study, CAAN has to recommend the government on whether or not to halt flights to and from such aforementioned destinations at Tribhuvan International Airport. CAAN will be holding consultations with experts for the purpose.

The meeting has also decided to conduct health check-up of all passengers travelling to Nepal from other countries. Passengers whose body temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit will be sent to isolation area arranged at TIA.

Prior to this, TIA had arranged to conduct health check-up of passengers travelling from China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia but it has not been implemented effectively. TIA had acquired two infrared thermal scanners to detect fever in people coming from foreign countries but only one is in operation at the moment.

Meanwhile, today’s meeting has decided to instal three more thermal scanners at TIA for mandatory health screening of passengers arriving in the country. Now the health screening will be conducted at both departure and arrival areas.

Likewise, the meeting has also decided to enhance the capacity of the health desk at TIA in cooperation with Ministry of Health and Population. Currently, a medical team comprising 12 staff members is conducting health screening in three shifts at TIA. However, the health desk has also been criticised for not being operated effectively.

Similarly, it has also been decided to conduct health check-up of passengers travelling overland to the country at several checkpoints.

In cooperation with the Department of Immigration and the health ministry the meeting has decided to arrange health screening at border areas too.

The meeting has further decided to issue a travel advisory via Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Nepali citizens going on international trips.

Meanwhile, the government is also preparing to halt all international seminars, conferences and other events that were scheduled to be held in the country or outside the country this year. Likewise, other gatherings and domestic events are also likely to be halted.

As per MoCTCA, all international promotional activities scheduled for Visit Nepal 2020 campaign by Nepal Tourism Board and Visit Nepal secretariat will also be halted till the end of March. Then after both the secretariat and NTB will recommend the government whether or not to continue the promotional activities after studying the situation.

Both the secretariat and NTB have been directed to prepare alternative programmes focusing on domestic tourism. Earlier, the private sector had been planning to hold promotional activities that were meant for China in other countries.

MoCTCA has formed a committee to arrange a mandatory health check-up of passengers travelling from across the world to Nepal and to manage other preventive measures against the COVID-19 virus.

The committee coordinated by Deo Candra Lal Karn, spokesperson for TIA, comprises Hemanta Chandra Ojha from the Ministry of Health and Population, Rajesh Panthi from TIA Immigration Office, Sarad Kafle from among airline operators and other representatives from security forces.

A version of this article appears in print on March 02, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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