Visas on-arrival have only been halted temporarily for citizens of five countries hit hard by Covid-19, Immigration Department clarifiesOnly citizens from China, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran are no longer eligible for a visa-on-arrival and will need to obtain visas at the Nepali embassy or consulate before arriving in Nepal.
The Nepal government has decided to stop issuing visas on-arrival to foreign nationals from five countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Department of Immigration.
A Cabinet meeting on Sunday decided that visas for citizens of China, “including its Special Administrative Regions”, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran will not be issued on arrival, effective from March 10, according to an official at the department.
If citizens from these countries wish to travel to Nepal, they will need to obtain a visa at the Nepali embassy in their respective countries.
“The government of Nepal is monitoring the spread of COVID-19. Taking into account the global recommendations and measure of the WHO, the government has decided to temporarily suspend visa-on-arrival for the nationals of the following countries, effective from 10 March, 2020 to till the date of further notice,” the department said in a statement issued Monday evening.
The Cabinet decision had led to confusion among potential visitors, with many unsure if they needed to get visas before arriving in Nepal. Responding to a query from the Post, an official at the Department of Immigration said that the temporary halt to the visa-on-arrival programme was only applicable to citizens of five countries; all others who were eligible for the visa-on-arrival will continue to receive them.
According to reports, South Korea said on Monday that it had detected 476 new cases, more than double the tally reported in China over the same period.
With 4,212 confirmed infections and at least 22 deaths, South Korea has the second-largest national caseload from the outbreak, which began in China’s Hubei province late last year.
Italy now has more than 1,600 confirmed cases, while Iran is nearing 1,000, with more than 50 deaths. As many as 239 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Japan as of March 1, according to the World Health Organization.
A total of 2,912 people have died inside China, with more than 80,000 confirmed cases of the virus. China on Monday reported 42 more deaths, all in Hubei.
Currently, only citizens from 12 countries—Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq and Palestine—are required to acquire a visa prior to their arrival in Nepal.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of April 8, 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 209 countries and infected more than 1,431,706 people with 82,080 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,351 with 160 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 4,035 confirmed cases with 57 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.