KATHMANDU, Feb 25: As South Korea reported more cases of new viral illness on Tuesday, fears of infection have grown among the Nepali citizens living there.
Besides China–who reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths today bringing the total to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths since the virus was first detected in December— South Korea now has the second most infections.
According to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 new cases of viral illness were reported on Tuesday taking the total to 893 cases, with nine deaths.
The outbreak has centered around Daegu and surrounding areas North Gyeongsang province where 49 new cases were reported.
According to EPS Korea Nepal, 40,000 Nepalis are currently working in Korea, and thousands of others are students.
About 1,000 Nepalis are estimated to have been living in Daegu.
South Korea has issued the highest alert for infectious diseases, and the companies have told the employees to work from home.
But the Nepalis fear even to get out of the companies they work for, while the company managers have directed them not to go out only in emergencies, according to a report published by onlinekhabar.com.
“We don’t have enough money to return home. But we will if the government rescues us,” wrote onlinekhabar quoting Sanjay Kerung.
“The government rescued Nepalis from China. Hope they rescue us if the situation gets too worse”.
The Nepalese Embassy in Seoul has already advised the Nepalis living there to adopt special precautions to avoid infection.
Khajraj Baral, secretary at the Health Ministry, said it impossible to evacuate the Nepalis living in Korea.
“The government has expressed concerns about them after Korea reported more cases, which is fast spreading there. But it is yet to be decided whether to airlift them,” said Secretary at the Health Ministry Khajraj Baral.
“Even though we do, it will be impossible to airlift them.”
Nepal, following a mounting pressure from the public and kin of Nepalis living in China, finally airlifted 175 Nepalis citizens from Hubei province including Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak on Feb 16.
It had taken the government more than two weeks to set up quarantine facilities in Kharipati to quarantine the Nepali evacuees.
It remains a challenge to the government to decide on the Nepali citizens in Korea where the infection spreading at 15-fold.