Government stops issuing no-objection certificates for study in countries hard hit by Covid-19Education consultancy operators say unofficially the letter has been stopped for all the countries.
A day after the Nepal government banned on arrival visa to travellers from countries hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Education has decided not to issue no-objection certificates for study in the six countries.
Starting Tuesday, the Abroad Study Permission Section of the Ministry has stopped providing students with the permit to study in China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Singapore. Japan has been the second most preferred destination for Nepali students at least for the past five years. Going by the data of the section, China stands fourth as the most favoured foreign country for Nepali students to pursue their university education while South Korea occupies the fifth place.
Between July 17, 2o18 and the end of 2019, Nepal issued 85,758 NOC letters. While 42,631 students acquired the certificate to study in Australian higher education institutes, their number for Japan was 12,317. As many as 3,164 students received the NOC for China and 2,112 got it to study in South Korea. If this data is anything to go by very few Nepalis aspire to go to Singapore and Italy for higher study.
“NOCs will not be issued until further notice,” Dibya Dawadi, deputy spokesperson for the Education Ministry, told the Post. The notice from the ministry says the number of restricted countries could change depending on the World Health Organisation’s report.
Education consultancy operators say though the government has officially listed the six countries, it has stopped issuing NOCs for all the countries. Santosh Pyakurel, coordinator of the National Educational Consultancies Association, one of five umbrella bodies of education consultancies in the country, said Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel has requested them to support the government’s decision.
“He [Pokharel] said the government doesn’t want to take the risk by sending students to any of the countries,” he told the Post. “Though it will affect students and the consultancies, we stand with the government’s decision.”
Last fiscal year, Nepali students received the certificate to study in 75 countries.
As of Tuesday evening, 92,236 people have been infected with Covid-19 and 3,131 succumbed to the disease globally. The six countries comprise around 99 percent of the infections and deaths. China alone has 80,152 infections and 2,978 deaths.
The government on February 16 evacuated 175 Nepali students studying in Hubei Province of China following the threat of Covid infection. They have reunited with their families, having been quarantined in Kharipati, Bhaktapur for 16 days.
Meanwhile, the ministry also has directed school operators to conduct all the examinations up to grade 9 within two weeks and send students on leave. Education Secretary Mahes Dahal said the ministry also has asked schools not to conduct any seminars and field visits until the threat of coronavirus ends.
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.