March 5: Tourism entrepreneurs in Nepal have called for halting two-way flights to the countries where coronavirus cases have been reported. They suggested to do so as a preventive measure to prevent the possible outbreak of coronavirus in the country.
Coronavirus, renamed as COVID-19 by the WHO, has spread to more than 60 countries so far, claiming the lives of over 3,000 people and infecting around 89,000.
To curb the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nepal, they have underscored the need for the government and members of public to observe high alertness. One among them is to restrict the international flights to limit the risk of import of the infection.
Nepal is one among those South Asian countries that are, according to the WHO, at high risk of COVID-19 that was first reported in Wuhan of Hubei province in China on December 31, 2019.
Although the government has been observing precautions for risk reduction and management of this flu-like infection, the tourism entrepreneurs here have demanded a slew of draconian measures. They have argued that such measures are not the question of 'if' but 'when' the cases of COVID-19 surges uncontrollably in our country.
Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN)'s President Khum Bahadur Subedi shared that they have requested the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to restrict all the international flights to and from the countries reporting COVID-19 cases. "There's high risk of COVID-19 adversely affecting the tourism sector of Nepal and its entire economy. A high alert must be observed to curb its risk," he said.
Nepal has inked bilateral air service agreement with around 40 countries and 29 air service provider companies are operating international flights from the only international airport in the country-Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
The tourism entrepreneurs have urged with the regulatory agencies to put temporary ban on the flights to and from the countries such as China, South Korea and Japan among others to prevent any outbreak.
Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents (NATA) President Achyut Guragain shared that they have been regularly in touch with the stakeholders and concerned government agencies for cancelling flights to and from the countries with high risk of COVID-19.
He shared that attention was drawn towards further scaling up the screening of the incoming passengers at the TIA for which the TIA's Help Desk should be equipped with more human resources and thermal cameras.
According to him, launching awareness campaign about the infection in schools and public places was equally important to control the spread of the deadly infection.
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN)'s Director General Rajan Pokharel said that like in other countries, necessary precaution has been observed in the Nepal's aviation sector. According to him, the CAAN has already issued a travel advisory to all the Nepalis not to consider abroad trips except in urgent situations. - RSS