Govt halts Nepali workers from going to South Korea
Kathmandu, February 23
The government has temporarily halted Nepali migrants from visiting South Korea to gain employment, as the number of novel coronavirus cases has surged in the country.
This decision affects at least 50 Nepalis, who were supposed to fly to South Korea on March 1.
“The decision was taken in view of rising coronavirus cases in Korea,” said Department of Foreign Employment Director General Kumar Prasad Dahal. The government has not said when the workers would be able to fly to South Korea.
Nepal has been sending migrant workers to South Korea under the Employment Permit System. About 40,000 Nepali migrant workers, 2,500 students and around 1,000 other Nepalis are currently living in South Korea.
South Korea raised its alert for COVID-19 virus to the highest level today, as the country reported 169 new infections on Sunday itself. With this, the number of people infected by the virus in the country has surged to 602. Three more people also succumbed to coronavirus infection today in South Korea, taking the number of deaths from the disease to six. Most of these cases were reported in Korea’s fourth largest city, Daegu, where over 1,000 Nepalis and about 150 students reside.
The Nepali Embassy in Seoul has asked Nepalis in South Korea, especially those living in Daegu and areas around it, to remain on high alert, stay safe and take precautionary measures to prevent contracting the disease.
“The embassy has received a letter from the Korean government stating no action will be taken against Nepalis living illegally in the country,” the Nepali embassy said in a statement.
The embassy has also recommended Nepalis to visit hospital if they detect symptoms of coronavirus infection. “Legal status of patients will not be asked during examination and treatment in hospitals,” adds the statement.
The government, however, has no immediate plan to rescue Nepalis living in South Korea.
“The government only evacuates Nepalis from cities that are completely locked down. People in Daegu are still free to enter and leave the city. Regular flights have also not been halted,” said Mahendra Shrestha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population. “But if anyone wishes to return home, they can do so,” he added.