64 Nepalis quarantined for violating immigration rules

CAAN to study whether the airlines deliberately flouted the direction or brought passengers from transit points

Kathmandu, March 21

Nepali air travellers entering the country today from various restricted countries were sent to quarantine for violating immigration rules.

According to the division office of the Department of Immigration at Tribhuvan International Airport, altogether 64 Nepalis arriving in Nepal from Malaysia, Japan and some Gulf countries were sent to the quarantine centre at Kharipati, Bhaktapur.

“The passengers arrived on Air India and Thai Airways flights from their transit destinations in New Delhi and Bangkok. As they had come from restricted countries, we sent them to Kharipati quarantine, where they will stay for 14 days,” said Sagar Acharya, TIA immigration chief.

Of the total passengers, 15 had boarded Air India while 49 had boarded Thai Airways.

After suspending all on-arrival visas, the DoI had issued a notice on March 18 restricting passengers from taking direct or transit flights originating from Europe, West Asia, Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and all the Gulf countries. The arrival restriction, implemented from yesterday midnight will continue till April 12.

Clearly, passengers and airline companies have not been abiding by the government’s direction as part of precautions to stop the coronavirus spread.

The department has asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to take action against airline companies for violating immigration rules, Acharya informed.

“We need to find the reason behind these flight operations. We will study whether airline companies intentionally brought passengers who had travelled from restricted countries or they just brought the passengers from transit destinations without knowledge of their original destination,” said Raj Kumar Chhetri, spokesperson for CAAN.

A meeting at CAAN tomorrow will decide whether to take action against airline companies or just warn them.

TIA Immigration Chief Acharya further said although they had sent back foreigners who had arrived from restricted countries, it was not possible to do the same to Nepali passengers. According to him, a total of 55 foreign passengers, who had travelled from restricted destinations, have been sent back from the airport till date.

Meanwhile, DoI Director General Eshor Raj Poudel said that despite the travel advisories, passengers were still arriving from restricted countries.

The government has announced that all international flights will be halted starting this midnight till March 31.

According to TIA, till this evening, flights of Qatar Airways, Turkish Airline, Silk Air, Indigo Air, Etihad Airways, Oman Air and Nepal Airlines landed at TIA. Meanwhile, Fly Dubai, Malaysia Airlines and DrukAir have cancelled their scheduled flights to Nepal for today.