Nepal | August 07, 2020

Lockdown extension recommendation likely

Chartered flights for Hong Kong, Japan in the offing

Ram Kumar Kamat
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Kathmandu, May 15

The High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 formed under the convenorship of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Ishwar Pokharel is likely to recommend extension of the lockdown beyond May 18 to the Cabinet.

The panel deliberated with sectoral experts, including health professionals, today on the modality of extension. Member Secretary of the committee Narayan Prasad Bidari said the committee would dwell tomorrow on suggestions offered today by experts on what should be the modality of the lockdown.

The committee also allowed people with visas to fly to Hong Kong or Japan or those who are permanent resident cardholders of Hong Kong and Japan to go there. Bidari said chartered flights would fly to Hong Kong and Japan and those willing to fly should fulfil all the immigration formalities.

Almost 600 Hong Kong visa or permanent residency cardholders and almost an equal number of Japan visa or PR cardholders have been stranded in Nepal due to the extended lockdown imposed by the government to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Bidari said those stranded had requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to send them to Japan and Hong Kong in chartered flights. On Nepalis stranded abroad, Bidari said the government wanted them to patiently stay where they were.

Khem Bahadur Karki, health adviser to the minister of health and population, told THT that the government needed to adopt multi-pronged approach to deal with the COVID-19 crisis as the virus might never go away.

Experts told the committee to strengthen the health system so that the threat of virus could be dealt with satisfactorily in the long-term and to spruce up health infrastructure to cope with the rising number of cases. They told the panel to make the public aware of the need for changing their social behaviour and maintaining social distance.

According to Karki, experts also suggested that the government add more quarantine centres before deciding to bring all Nepali nationals, particularly migrant workers stranded in labour destinations,   back to Nepal.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 16, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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