Nepal halts all flight operations amid record surge in virus cases

Kathmandu, May 3 (EFE).- Nepal Monday banned all domestic and international flights until May 14 amid a rapid rise in daily Covid-19 cases.

Tourism ministry official Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane told EFE that domestic flight operations would halt from Monday midnight, while international flights will stop from Thursday.

However, according to Lamichhane, the government has decided to allow at least two flights a week on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector under an air bubble arrangement with India.

“The government has allowed chartered flights following a strict health safety protocol,” Lamichhane said.

The government imposed a two-week lockdown in the Kathmandu valley on Apr.29.

Nepal recorded 7,388 new infections on Monday, the highest-single day surge since the beginning of the pandemic in January last year.

The country also registered the highest 37 new Covid-19 fatalities, the health ministry said, taking the overall toll to 3,362.

The countrywide infection tally has reached 343,418, with the number of active cases at 54,011.

The previous highest number of daily cases was recorded on Oct.21 last year when the country reported 5,743 infections in a single day.

The lockdown and flight restrictions have come when a record number of climbers are planning to attempt the summit of Mt Everest.

Gyanendra Shrestha, a government liaison officer at the Everest base camp, told EFE that Everest might see first climbing by the beginning of next week after the weather reports are released this week.

Nepal has issued a record Everest climbing permit for 408 climbers this year.

In 2019, Nepal issued Everest permits to 381 climbers, the previous high.

A 13-member rope fixing team will prepare the route to the Everest summit from Camp IV from Wednesday, said Shrestha.

To prevent overcrowding at the world’s tallest peak, the Nepal government has implemented a quota system for mountaineers limiting a maximum of 170 climbers in a single weather window. EFE


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