Govt fails to implement apex court decision

Kathmandu, March 8

The government has not yet implemented the Supreme Court’s interim direction to halt direct and transit flights from countries that have been majorly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Addressing the increasing threat of coronavirus, the apex court had issued an interim order on March 2 directing the government to halt flights to and from countries that pose a high risk of coronavirus infection, including China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Bahrain, till the disease was brought under control.

The order was immediately sent to the Cabinet for implementation. However, the decision has not been implemented yet. The government has stated that Nepal is already using precautions in every sector so there is no need to rush to halt flights in the country. Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has also recommended the government to follow the direction of World Health Organisation.

“The government had already carried out several steps to prevent the virus from spreading in the country before the SC issued its interim order. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a travel advisory and the Tribhuvan International Airport including other domestic airports started health screening of passengers,” said Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai. Hence, there is no such emergency in the country to halt flights, he added.

The minister further said that each country has their own priorities so it would be better to analyse one’s own situation more than imitating other countries while taking such decisions. “Moreover, the government has banned tourists coming overland to Nepal from virus-affected countries so that we can conduct proper screening of the passengers travelling via air route,” he said, adding, “The government has also banned on-arrival visas for people from virus-affected countries. Hence, the government is prepared not to let the coronavirus affect the country.”

He, however, claimed that the government is ready to take any such decision at any time if needed.

Meanwhile, Bhutan, which is heavily reliant on high-end tourism for foreign exchange, on Friday imposed two weeks’ restriction on all incoming tourists after a first positive case of coronavirus was detected in the country.