KATHMANDU, March 3: Amidst fear of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Nepal, the government is taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus from travelers.
With the increasing reported cases in countries other than mainland China, the government has decided to stop issuing visa-on-arrival to the people from five countries that have recorded an increase of virus infection.
According to the Department of Immigration (DoI) on the basis of global recommendations and measures of the WHO, Nepal has decided to temporarily suspend visa-on-arrival for nationals from China, South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran effective from March 10.
A cabinet meeting on Sunday decided to temporarily halt issuance of visa-on-arrival for the citizens from these countries. However, the department has said that, those willing to visit Nepal can obtain visa beforehand from the Nepali missions abroad. The applicants in these countries are required to submit a recently issued health certificate with the visa application.
“Not only the travelers are required to acquire visas prior to landing in Nepal, they should submit a health card stating that the person is not infected with the virus to the immigration,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, “The visitors need to go through mandatory screening and if any problems are spotted, we have asked the stakeholders at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to take them to the hospital.”
He further added that, those who come to Nepal from infected countries need to follow the protocol prepared by the Ministry of Health and Population on the basis of the WHO protocol. “They need to stay in quarantine to minimize the risk of spread of the virus,” he said.
“Nepal has been preparing for it for a long time and now we have become alert after the World Health Organization listed Nepal as a high risk country,” said Gyawali, adding: “We have decided to stop issuing on arrival visas to people traveling from countries with wide spread infection of the virus.”
The government has also issued travel advisory for Nepalis in which it requests people to avoid traveling to these countries until and unless it is really necessary.
“We basically advise Nepalis to not travel abroad where the infection has surfaced in most of the countries,” he added. The government has made screening mandatory for people travelling from or through India before they enter Nepal.
The TIA has also barred people to receive or drop people off at the airport. The airport authority has asked all the visitors entering the airport premises to compulsorily wear masks. The distribution of visitor pass has been put on hold for the time being, according to TIA.