TIA told to manage separate service for arrivals from China

Kathmandu, January 27

Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai has directed Tribhuvan International Airport to arrange a separate checking facility and other services for aircraft flying from China.

As the coronavirus outbreak shows no sign of abating, but is instead spreading quite rapidly across the world, Minister Bhattarai sought separate services so that passengers travelling from China would not come into direct contact with other passengers.

Calling a meeting today, he directed all tourism and aviation stakeholders to put an effort to prevent the spread of the virus in their respective sectors.

“As TIA is the gateway of the country, we have to make the airport safe,” he said, “Hence, a separate dedicated health desk will be set up at TIA.” The minister further directed TIA authorities to make sure that travellers from China did not come in direct contact with other passengers.

Bhattarai further directed TIA to conduct mandatory health check-up of passengers, especially those coming from China, before allowing them to leave the airport premises.

The minister has further directed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and other authorities to install modern technology at airports and border points immediately to conduct health screenings.

He also requested staffers deployed at the immigration office and airports to use precaution to stay safe. The minister further directed TIA to immediately manage aircraft disinfection requirements based on the World Health Organisation’s criteria as soon as an aircraft landed on the runway.

“As coronavirus-infected patients are supposed to receive treatment in isolation, I request the TIA authority to manage a separate space for treatment of such patients, if there are any,” he said.

Responding to the tourism minister, Devendra KC, general manager of TIA, said that equipment for checking a large number of people at once had already been installed at the airport. “We are also installing other high-tech equipment for screening passengers and ambulance service is on standby for any kind of emergency,” he added. Meanwhile, Minister Bhattarai also directed the authorities concerned to take precautionary measures in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini, where Chinese tourists travel the most. He also sought safety in religious places that see huge gatherings of devotees.

He directed authorities to take precaution in the northern borders — Rasuwa, Yarina and other check-points — that are used by tourists travelling on the land route.

He further requested all stakeholders to spread the message that Nepal is not only safe as far as coronavirus is concerned, but is also prepared to prevent any outbreak.

“Although coronavirus is alarming and our neighbouring countr y is str uggling to overcome this challenge, we still do not have to worry much, as Nepal is quite safe till date,” he said. “However, we have to be alert. This is the time to be very cautious as the country is engaged in the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.”

Minister Bhattarai said the government would immediately disseminate the message that Nepal was not facing the virus threat and was ready to prevent any outbreak.