KATHMANDU, March 22: The government has sent three individuals including a Dutch national of Nepali origin to Kharipati-based quarantine facility on Saturday midnight who came to Kathmandu from Singapore on a Silk Air flight.
Amid threats of the possible outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had decided to send back Silk Air flight to Singapore without letting in any passenger at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Saturday evening.
However, the CAAN backtracked on its decision and allowed the Silk Air flight to land for refueling only. The TIA management had asked the aircraft to go back. However, after the protest of its passengers who were mostly Nepali origin people, the CAAN allowed all the passengers to deplane at the TIA at around 11:45 pm. Of the 64 passengers, three including a Dutch national have been sent to Kharipati-based quarantine. Rest of others has been asked to stay in self-isolation in their homes, according to the CAAN.
"We allowed the passengers to deplane because most of them were own Nepali nationals and just one person was Dutch national," Rajan Pokharel, the director general of the CAAN said. He said that the Dutch national and two others have been sent to Kharipati-based quarantine.
Initially, the government had decided to divert the plane from the airspace. But the aircraft was allowed to land at the TIA for refueling.
The government has restricted the entry of passengers coming from Europe and the Middle East including the Gulf countries and Turkey, as well as Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, starting from March 20. It also said that people are restricted from entering Nepal through these countries as transit points.
Although the government has restricted the arrival of air passengers from several countries in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nepali nationals in those countries were found entering Nepal on Saturday after transiting through Thailand and India. All of them have been sent into quarantine at the facility set up for the purpose at the Nepal Electricity Authority Training Center at Kharipati, Bhaktapur.
A total of 64 Nepali nationals landed at Tribhuvan International Airport on Saturday by Thai Airways and Indian Airlines flights, according to the Department of Immigration (DoI).
“As the government has restricted direct flights here from Malaysia, Japan and the UAE, these passengers entered Nepal through Thailand or India as a transit point,” Sagar Acharya, chief of TIA’s immigration office, told Republica.
As they couldn’t enter Nepal from Malaysia, Japan and the UAE due to the travel restriction, they [Nepali nationals] first went to Thailand or India to enter Nepal from there.
“The Nepalis in Malaysia and Japan traveled to Thailand, while those in the UAE landed in India to fly into Nepal,” said Acharya.
A total of 52 Nepali nationals entered by Thai Airways while Indian Airlines carried in 12.
Meanwhile, the government has already restricted international flights to TIA from March 22 midnight to March 31 midnight.
According to Eshor Raj Poudel, director general at DoI, it’s high time all Nepalis took precautionary measures during these times of pandemic.
Note: TIA authorities had decided to send back the Silk Air aircraft to Singapore by the time Republica print edition went to the press yesterday evening. However, the authorities decided allow deplaning them after 11:45 PM owing to their protest.