Coronavirus: Nepal announces nationwide lockdown

Nepal announces nationwide lockdown over coronavirus pandemic

A man rides on an empty street as long distance bus and land border crossings are shut down amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Reuters Photo)

Nepal on Monday announced a nationwide lockdown for a week amidst concern over the possible spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

A meeting of the high-level committee for the prevention and control of COVID-19, led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, took the decision on Monday evening, hours after a second coronavirus case was confirmed.

There will be a nationwide lockdown from Tuesday 6 AM, officials said, adding that the mobility of people, except for emergencies, will be halted.

The Ministry of Health on Monday said that a 19-year-old Nepali student who returned from France via Qatar tested positive for COVID-19.

"We have decided to go for a lockdown from 6 AM Tuesday for a week," said Bhanubhakta Dhakal, minister for health and population, who is a member of the high-level committee.

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In an eight-point order released by the committee, all public movement outside of home, except to seek medical attention or purchase essential foodstuff, has been prohibited.

All public and private vehicles, except for those with prior permission, those belonging to security forces and those for health workers, are also forbidden from the streets.

"People can come out of their homes to buy essentials as shops selling essential goods will remain open," according to the order.

Most of the shops are already closed in Kathmandu for the past few days after the government imposed a semi-lockdown.

For those who suspect they might have COVID-19, the government has formed a Patient Receiving Team under the leadership of the home minister to transport such suspected patients to the hospital, said the officials.

All flights have also been suspended, except those of security forces. Private industries, except for those involved in medicine and medical equipment, foodstuff, drinking water, milk and fuel, will have to send their employees on leave.

Anyone defying the government order will be booked under the Infectious Disease Control Act.

All government services, except those related to daily essentials, will be closed and government officials kept on alert for emergencies.

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