180 Nepalis have made requests to return home, Nepali Embassy in Beijing saysWhile the embassy says it is all prepared to evacuate Nepalis, officials in Kathmandu are struggling to find places where the returnees could be quarantined.
The embassy in Beijing on Saturday issued a public notice, asking Nepalis in Hubei to fill out a form if they wish to return to Nepal.
“A total of 180 Nepali nationals, mostly students, currently living in 17 cities in China, including Wuhan of Hubei, have registered their names with the embassy, expressing their desire to return home,” Sushil Kumar Lamsal, deputy chief of mission at the Nepali Embassy in Beijing, told the Post over the phone. “Around 120 Nepalis from other Chinese provinces also want to return.”
On Sunday evening, the Nepali Embassy in Beijing published a list of all 180 Nepalis in China who want to return home.
First detected in Wuhan in December last year, the new strain of coronavirus now has spread to as many as 25 countries, with more than 14,000 infections confirmed.
Officials in Kathmandu, however, are in a fix, as there is a lack of quarantine centres where every China returnee needs to spend at least two weeks, which is the incubation period.
Government officials are yet to ascertain how many planes they will need to ferry the Nepalis stuck in China. They are also trying to figure out whether to send Nepal Airlines planes or charter Chinese planes.
Lamsal said the embassy had completed verification of all those Nepalis who want to return from China.
“As of Saturday evening, we have ascertained the names of 180 Nepalis living in Hubei,” Lamsal told the Post. “We have also apprised the Chinese government of our evacuation plan. As soon as the government decides to evacuate them, we will take the next step. We need to work on logistics to bring everyone to Wuhan airport in protective gear.”
The embassy in Beijing, according to Lamsal, has communicated to all Nepalis who are ready to be evacuated to take extra precautions.
The Chinese government has assured assistance in the evacuation of Nepalis from Wuhan, where Nepali officials won’t be visiting as the city is on lockdown, said Lamsal.
“If someone from the embassy visits Wuhan, he or she has to stay in isolation there or take the chartered flight carrying Nepalis to return Nepal to spend at least two weeks,” Lamsal told the Post.
But back at home, the government has yet to identify the places to keep the returnees.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday, during his address to the party’s Central Committee meeting, said that the government had finalised places where Nepalis could be kept after their evacuation.
“We have made arrangements to bring Nepalis back from China,” said Oli.
But Health Ministry officials told the Post that some places are under discussions but they are yet to take a final decision.
A senior Health Ministry official told the Post the new building of the Nepal Army, the barracks of the Armed Police Force in Kirtipur, the housing complex built for the squatters in Changunarayan, Bhaktapur, Ayurved Research Centre in Kirtipur and Agriculture Training Centre in Bhaktapur could be converted into quarantine centres.
“We have identified more than half a dozen places or buildings. But we are yet to finalise,” said Mahendra Shrestha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. “A team of the Health Ministry under Dr Dipendra Raman Shrestha is inspecting these places.”