National Human Rights Commission directs government to take immediate measures to evacuate Nepalis from China’s Hubei provinceThe rights body, in a statement, has also decided to call government officials to take stock of the situation of Nepali’s in the disease-hit area and the government’s effort to bring its citizen back.
The rights body said in a statement on Sunday that its emergency meeting decided to direct the government to create an environment to bring back its citizens from Hubei.
The statement, pointing out the risk of Nepalis contracting the disease if they stay in the region for a longer period, said that it has decided to summon secretaries of various ministries to take stock of the situation.
“The commission has decided to call secretaries from Foreign Ministry, Education Ministry and Health Ministry to take stock of the health conditions of all the Nepalis stuck in the Chinese province and the works being carried out by the Nepal government to bring them back,” read the statement.
Even as Nepalis in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus, and the greater Hubei province, had asked the Nepali Embassy in Beijing to evacuate them a week ago, officials in Kathmandu have little idea how the evacuation will progress.
Meanwhile, the relatives of Nepalis stuck in Hubei have formed a pressure group and they have been making rounds of various ministries with a request to expedite the evacuation process.
Several nations, like the United States, Japan, Australia and India, have already started evacuating their citizens from Wuhan and its surrounding cities which are on lockdown to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
However, health experts have said that a medical evacuation, unlike political decisions, is not easy to pull off as Nepal is “not prepared at all”.
On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the spreading novel coronavirus outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ and Nepal will need to ensure that it acts in accordance with the UN body’s guidelines when it comes to prevention and detection.
There has already been one confirmed case of coronavirus in Nepal, but the country lacks resources and facilities to detect and treat suspected patients.
Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku, which is the country’s only tropical and infectious disease hospital, has an isolation treatment ward, but it is woefully underequipped and underresourced to effectively limit contagion risk.
There are also no quarantine facilities in place to keep people who have returned from the disease-hit areas in observation.
The Tribhuvan International Airport has installed thermal scanners and activated its health desk to screen passengers as a precaution in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. But some health experts have expressed doubt over the efficacy of the thermal scanners as they require an airconditioned environment to work well.
Health experts have urged the government to strengthen the capacity of its health facilities to handle deadly infectious diseases like the novel coronavirus before evacuating Nepalis from China.