Nepal extends lockdown until April 7 as more COVID-19 cases appear



KATHMANDU, March 29: The government has decided to extend the nationwide lockdown by eight more days as the COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country.

A meeting of the Council of Ministers held at the PM’s official residence in Baluwatar on Sunday decided to extend the lockdown until April 7 midnight.

Earlier, a meeting of the High-level Coordination Committee formed to prevent and control the coronavirus pandemic led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel has recommended the government to extend the enforcement for a week in the wake of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The decision comes a day after the Health and Population Ministry confirmed the fifth case of the virus on Saturday, four cases have been detected in the past six days. On Saturday, a 19-year-old girl from Baglung who returned Nepal on March 17 after visiting her mother in Belgium had tested positive for the virus.

She had taken the same flight from Qatar the 19-year-old coronavirus patient returned in Kathmandu from France. She was tested positive on March 23 — Nepal’s second case, prompting the government to enforce a week-long nationwide lockdown effective from March 24.

Two days later, a 32-year-old man who had returned from the United Arab Emirates was tested positive. A day later, a 34-year-old returnee from Dubai had tested positive. According to the Health Ministry, the health condition of all four patients is normal. On Jan 24, health authorities had confirmed Nepal’s first case on a student on vacation from Wuhan. He recovered and was sent home.

The COVID-19 prevention and control committee has also decided to extend restrictions on all international commercial passenger flights until April 15. Earlier, the government had suspended all international passenger flights until March 31.

Likewise, the committee has also decided to take action against those individuals refusing to contact the health authorities after returning from foreign countries.

Also, the meeting has decided to allow the Nepali nationals stranded in Nepal-India border to enter the country.