Kathmandu, Jul 20 (efe-epa).- Nepal announced on Monday that it would allow scheduled domestic and international flights in the country from Aug. 17 following a drop in the cases of the new coronavirus.
The minister of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe, told EFE that the decision was taken in a cabinet meeting on Monday.
“All flights will be operated under the special health and safety protocols. The decision has been taken based on the decreasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country,” Tumbahamphe said.
The government had on Mar. 20 banned the arrival of all passengers – including Nepalese citizens – from the European Union, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and countries like Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan as the pandemic tightened its grip across the world.
Four days later, the government imposed a complete lockdown and shut all air traffic, except chartered repatriation flights, to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Himalayan nation reported 186 fresh cases of the disease on Monday, taking the number of total patients to 17,844.
Health ministry spokesperson Jageshwor Gautam said in a press briefing that 11,868 Covid patients, or 66.51 percent of the total cases, have been discharged so far, with 173 being released within the past 24 hours.
However, aviation officials clarified that the resumption of flights did not guarantee the possibility of being able to fly in and out of the country.
“Because many countries are still imposing entry restrictions, it’s not that anyone can travel to anywhere. We will develop protocols and other required measures for the incoming flights,” Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, a joint secretary at the civil aviation ministry, told EFE.
“It will be restricted flight(s), not like before, and separate criteria like quarantine will be introduced for the Nepalese and foreigners entering Nepal,” he said, adding that health and safety protocols had already been developed for domestic flights.
The coronavirus crisis has severely affected tourism, the mainstay of the country’s economy, with earnings projected to drop by 60 percent or $400 million, according to a United Nations report. EFE-EPA