Nepal COVID-19 lockdown extended till 7 April

Sunday's Cabinet meeting in Baluwatar where ministers and the prime minister maintained physical distancing. Photo RSS

The Nepal government decided on Sunday to extend its national lockdown by another week till midnight 7 April, and to continue the ban on all domestic and international flights till 15 April.

The Cabinet made the decision on recommendation of the Coronavirus Control High-level Task Force headed by Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel based on the WHO criteria of a safe 14 day incubation period for the virus.

The government may have first announced only a weeklong nationwide lockdown so as to soften the blow on the public, and to dissuade hoarders and black marketeers. Public health experts had said the lockdown would not make sense unless it was for a total of two weeks.

They said the 14-day period was to prevent imported infections and also to isolate those people coming into Nepal and the people they had come in contact with. A further five day extension after 7 April would help control community transmission within Nepal. 

However, government sources told Nepali Times, no decision has been made yet on extended the lockdown beyond 7 April. They did not rule out local lockdowns even after mid-April if there were outbreaks of local clusters within Nepal.

Sunday’s Cabinet meeting also decided to allow into the country hundred of Nepalis stuck at no-man’s land on the Indian border for the past four days on condition that they self-isolate themselves. It also advised all Nepalis still in India to remain where they are for now. There are reports of 300 Nepali workers stranded in Pune without money and any way to get back to Nepal. 

Nepal’s lockdown has not affected the transportation of food, fuel and essential supplies from India into Nepal through four border crossings, and Nepal has also opened two of its checkpoints with China for imports.

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