The government has issued 'Order Regarding Health Safety and Quarantine for Passengers Coming to Nepal from Abroad, 2021' for quarantine, health safety and medical test of passengers who travel to Nepal from countries where new variants of COVID-19 have been reported.

According to a notice published in the Nepal Gazette earlier this week, this order was issued in line with Section 2 of the Infectious Disease Act, 1964. As per the order, if new variants of COVID-19 are identified in any country, the Ministry of Health and Population and Nepali missions based abroad shall provide information thereof to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

"After the information is received, the MoCTCA will give information about it to airline companies flying to those countries and to Nepal. Airline companies will be required to implement the provisions mentioned in the order as soon as they get information regarding the identification of new variants of COVID-19 in any country," the order says.

The MoCTCA shall give permission to airline companies to operate to and from those countries only on the condition that it will fully abide by the provisions stated in the order. "Before making a flight to Nepal from any country with new variants of COVID-19, the airline company concerned shall provide details of its passengers on board to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal through email. The CAAN shall circulate such details to the MoHP, Immigration Office at Tribhuvan International Airport and Kathmandu District COV- ID-19 Crisis Management Centre," the order reads.

Similarly, passengers are required to provide their flight schedule and other details to the Nepali mission concerned before travelling to Nepal from the country where new variants of COVID-19 are present. Such details of passengers are forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, MoCT- CA and CCMC.

The order has made it mandatory for passengers to hold COV- ID-19 negative reports from a PCR test obtained within 72 hours prior to their departure from a foreign country. Likewise, passengers travelling to Nepal from any country where new COVID-19 variants are reported shall compulsorily book a room for quarantine in a hotel listed by the MoCTCA at their own expenses before buying an air ticket.

They are required to stay in hotel quarantine for 10 days. The order has also prescribed standards to be followed by hotels that provide quarantine facilities to air passengers.

Government authorities will conduct health check-up of passengers at TIA and border transits.

If they are suspected to have been infected, they will be admitted to the nearest hospital for treatment. "If any person, organisation, airline company or entity violates the provisions stated in the order, legal action will be initiated against them as per the prevailing law," it warns.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 26, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.