KATHMANDU, April 1: Although the government has claimed that it has been able to track down more than 80 percent of the air passengers sharing flights into Nepal with COVID-19 positive individuals, the authorities on the ground say that tracing them has been difficult. Nepal Police have traced little more than 50 percent of the passengers till Tuesday evening.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Dr Bikash Devkota, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, said that the government has been able to trace the contact details of all the COVID-19 cases on two flights. He also said that the government traced the contact details of more than 80 percent of the passengers on the two flights. Four COVID-19 cases had entered Nepal in three flights.
A second and a fifth coronavirus positive case had traveled to Nepal on March 17 by flight QR 652 of Qatar Airways. There were 158 passengers on board the aircraft and 20 of them are not yet in contact with the authorities concerned.
Likewise, a third case arrived by flight G9537 of Air Arabia on March 19. Of the 168 passengers on the flight, Nepal Police have been able to trace only 98.
The fourth case entered Nepal on March 20 by flight UK 155 of Vistara Airlines. Though there were 130 passengers on board, only 14 are in contact with the authorities.
Of the total 456 passengers on the three flights, the government has been able to trace only 250.
According to police, it has been difficult to trace the passengers as the addresses in their passports and their actual addresses don't match. “Those who have come in contact are in self-quarantine under the observation of the local authorities,” said Superintendent of Police Umesh Raj Joshi, spokesperson for Nepal Police, adding that they have been coordinating with the Department of Passport to establish the exact particulars of all the passengers.
According to Joshi, there were passengers from 48 different districts on flight QR652 of Qatar Airways. Likewise, passengers from 45 different districts were on board flight G9537 of Air Arabia, and from 30 different districts on UK155 of Vistara Airlines.
“Some passengers have contacted us [police] themselves. We have urged all passengers to come into contact in view of the pandemic,” said Joshi, adding that it might take a few days more to trace all the passengers.
“We need support from the public also. The passengers can contact the police themselves and inform about their health condition through toll free number 100,” he said.