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Nepal suspend all flights as precaution against COVID-2019


Kathmandu. Nepal said Friday it will suspend all international flights as a precautionary measure against the new coronavirus that has still left the Asian country largely untouched.

Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli said during a televised address to the nation late Friday that all international flights to and from Nepal will be suspended from Sunday to March 31.

Oli, who underwent a renal transplant earlier this month, also announced a halt of all nonessential public and private services from Sunday to April 3. Long-distance bus services will also be suspended across the nation from Monday.

“The measures are subject to revision, with your cooperation, depending on how the pandemic progresses,” Oli said, urging people to heed the World Health Organization’s recommended measures on hygiene and social isolation.

He also encouraged service providers to switch to telework and urged people to stay home. On Wednesday, Nepal completely banned the entry of people from Japan as well as some other Asian countries, Europe and all Gulf nations.

Friday’s announcement expands the ban to all nations and nationalities, including Nepali citizens living abroad. Nepal has confirmed only one coronavirus case so far. The infected man later recovered and was discharged from quarantine.

The increasingly strict measures will likely hit tourism in the peak season from March through May. During this season each year, hundreds of mountaineers flock to Nepal’s mountains including Mt. Everest.

Nepal makes up to $4 million annually from royalty fees for Mt. Everest alone.

Nepal has already called off the spring climbing season on all mountains, including Mt. Everest, fearing spread of the virus.

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