Amid COVID-19 surge, Nepal bans all domestic, international flights

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Nepal on Sunday banned all domestic flights from Monday midnight and all international flights from Wednesday midnight until May 14 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“The decision on flight restrictions are in place until May 14,” Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi told the Kathmandu Post. “However, charter flights will be allowed.”

Nepal has also made quarantine mandatory for everyone arriving in the country.

Foreigners flying into the Kathmandu Valley are subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine in hotels upon arrival. A negative polymerase chain reaction test result obtained within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin is required for entry into Nepal.

Bus services have been halted since Thursday (April 29), reported Kathmandu Post.

Before the Cabinet’s decision, the country’s civil aviation regulator-the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal-had decided to introduce a fixed quota system for airlines to restrict the number of flights.

“The whole country is going into lockdown and the two-week circuit-breaker is a wise decision,” Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air told the Kathmandu Post. “We will regret it if we don’t act now.”

On April 29, Nepal enforced two-week prohibitory orders in Kathmandu Valley as the three districts of the Valley-Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur-are the most affected ones by the pandemic in terms of the number of daily cases, reported Kathmandu Post.

According to statistics of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, domestic airlines saw an all-time one-day record of passenger numbers of 15,263 on April 28, a day before the prohibitory orders came into force enforced in Kathmandu Valley, as people scrambled to leave the Capital city.

Passenger numbers, however, started to drop gradually and stood at 7,225 on Sunday.

Nepal on Sunday reported the highest-single day surge of coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic in January last year. The country recorded 7,137 new cases in polymerase chain reaction tests and 74 in antigen tests. With 27 new fatalities from COVID-19-related complications, the death toll has reached 3,325.

The countrywide infection tally has reached 3,36,030, with the number of active cases at 48,711. The highest number of daily cases prior to Sunday was recorded on October 21 last year when the country reported 5,743 COVID-19 infections on a single day, reported Kathmandu Post.

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