KATHMANDU, Jan 28: Concerned over the possible impact of the Wuhan coronavirus on human health and the Nepali tourism industry, the government has asked tourism entrepreneurs and the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) authorities to adopt all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai said on Monday that it is important to send a message in the international arena that Nepal is safe to travel and that the virus has not spread in the country. “A dedicated health desk will be stationed in the TIA where travelers especially from China will be checked before and after flights,” he announced.
Minister Bhattarai asked private sector tourism stakeholders to work in close coordination with the government to help prevent the spread of the virus. He asked hotels and travel/trekking agencies among others to take their foreign guests to the designated hospitals and health facilities if they sense the presence of coronavirus in them.
Suspected cases can be taken to Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH), Nepal Police Hospital, Patan Hospital and Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. The government has allocated a total of six beds in the isolation ward at the Teku-based STIDH.
The Visit Nepal 2020 campaign launched earlier this month has faced setbacks from the very start, with at least seven trekkers missing in a recent avalanche in the Annapurna region – one of the popular trekking routes of the country – and the coronavirus outbreak in China, which is the second largest source of tourists coming to Nepal.
Speaking at a meeting with stakeholders on Monday, Minister Bhattarai directed the TIA Civil Aviation Office (TIA CAO) to make announcements for mandatory examination of passengers at the dedicated health desk after aircraft land at the TIA. The TIA CAO will carry out aircraft disinfection as per the criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Stating that Chinese tourists also enter Nepal overland from various border points in the north of the country, Minister Bhattarai said extra safety measures will be adopted in those areas.
“As the infected persons need to be isolated, everyone working in the tourism sector should be well-informed about the preventive measures,” he further said.
TIA General Manager Debendra KC said the airport staffers have been asked to adopt precautionary measures to protect themselves from infected travelers. “Staff and volunteers at the immigration and arrivals section are required to use face mask, gloves and other health gears,” he said. “Additional equipment will be put in place at the airport in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Population for the inspection of coronavirus.”
The government has asked the stakeholders to put extra efforts to make safe places like Pashupati in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini where the flow of Chinese tourists is high. It has also asked the private sector to conduct coronavirus awareness campaigns at the tourist attractions.