Tourism Minister leads briefing on coronavirus

KATHMANDU: A briefing on the novel coronavirus was held on Saturday in the presence of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai.

Present in the meeting were Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, Nepal Tourism Board CEO Dhananjay Regmi, high level government officials, presidents and representatives of tourism and airlines associations of Nepal, according to an NTB press release.

Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Health Sagar Dahal gave a presentation on the latest updates of the symptoms, spread of the virus in China and other parts of the world, and measures taken by the Government of Nepal to contain the disease. Dahal informed, "There is no serious threat of the virus in Nepal as the only case detected positive of the virus has been cured and the person is now in good health." He added that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been furnishing updates on the virus status on regular basis and this information has been linked to the Ministry of Health to ensure single window information mechanism.

Tourism and airlines representatives, on their part, provided updates on the precautionary measures taken by them.

On the occasion, Minister Bhattarai said, "There is no reported infection of coronavirus in Nepal. Nevertheless, Government of Nepal and its concerned entities are well equipped and are staying fully alert, especially at all immigration points and Tribhuvan International Airport. All necessary precautions and preventive measrues have been adopted."

The Minister also shared information on his meeting with Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi who conveyed appreciation on behalf of the Chinese Government for precautionary measures and necessary preparedness taken by Nepal Government to fight the problem. Ambassador Yanqi, according to Minister Bhattarai, expressed confidence that the disease would come under control within few weeks in China and it would not much affect the target of Chinese tourists in Nepal for the Visit Nepal Year-2020 campaign.

In the briefing, Minister Bhattarai also informed that a high level coordination team had been formed comprising Joint Secretary of Tourism Ministry Ghanashyam Upadhyay, Director General of Department of Tourism Dandu Raj Ghimire, and CEO of NTB Dhananjay Regmi. The team will coordinate with concerned agencies and embassies on regular basis to share updates and take necessary actions regarding the corona threat on tourism industry.

Minister Bhattarai instructed all parties concerned to create awareness among tourism stakeholders and general public about this threat.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Minister invited all international travellers to come to Nepal without any hesitation or slightest fear whatsoever regarding the coronravirus. He appealed all to promote VNY 2020 with full energy.