Nepali workers won’t be going to South Korea for nowIt’s been over a week since a batch of labourers went to the east Asian country.
The global covid-19 outbreak has impacted Nepali migrant labourers awaiting their turn to go to South Korea under a government scheme.
The Employment Permit System (EPS) Korea Section, under the Department of Foreign Employment, said it has temporarily stopped sending Nepali workers to the east Asian country in view of the coronovirus outbreak.
“The departure of Nepali migrant workers has been temporarily halted for now,” said Krishna Prasad Khanal, director at the EPS Korea Section. “It, however, doesn’t mean that labour migration to South Korea has been stopped completely,” said Khanal. “We will reschedule their flights when the right time comes.”
Every week, dozens of the Nepali workers head to South Korea after passing their Korean language and skill tests. However, it’s been over a week since a batch of Nepali workers left for South Korea.
Earlier this month, the Nepal chapter of the Human Resources Development Service of South Korea requested the government not to send new workers to the country in wake of the public health crisis.
Following the request, the Foreign Employment Department assured the Koreans that the flights of Nepali workers, who show symptoms similar to those infected with covid-19, would be postponed until they fully recover.
“A formal decision hasn’t been made. But for the time being, we have postponed flights [to Korea],” said Bhola Nath Guragain, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Employment. “Those who want to go on their own individual visa can go,” he said. “We can’t stop them. But, the group of workers the government sends is not going due to coronavirus concerns.”
The public health scourge, which started from China in December, has been rapidly spreading in South Korea.
Nepal’s embassy in Seoul also issued a statement recently, urging citizens in Korea to stay alert in view of the outbreak. According to South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus cases in the country jumped well into four figures on Wednesday. Local media reported the country has already recorded 12 deaths attributed to the virus.
Nepali migrant workers consider South Korea as a safe destination. A migrant worker can stay up to four years and 10 months in South Korea. So far, more than 60,000 Nepali workers have gone to the country since 2008.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of April 5, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had spread to 204 countries and infected more than 11,79,733 people with 63,908 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 2,902 with 68 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 2,708 confirmed cases with 41 deaths. Nepal has so far reported nine cases, in which one patient recovered.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.