Hundreds of migrant workers on their job-break can return to their jobs as regular flights resumeOver 5,600 Nepali migrant workers have received re-entry labour permits to report back to their jobs after the government decided to allow them to migrate.
After a six-month long hiatus, Nepali migrant workers will be finally able to migrate to several labour destination countries from next week.
The resumption of flight service could offer a much-needed impetus to the country’s foreign employment sector hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of migrant workers, who had returned to Nepal during their annual break, were so far unable to join their respective jobs, mainly in the Persian Gulf countries and Malaysia, after Nepal suspended all international flights in the wake of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, labour destination countries, too, had enforced several coronavirus containment measures like suspension of international flights and banning entry of foreigners for months.
Migrant workers’ prospect of travelling to the job destination countries became possible after the government last week decided to resume chartered and regular passenger flights from September 1.
According to Bharatmani Pande, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, Nepali migrant workers with re-entry work permits can fly back to the countries of their employment on regular flights.
However, not all the workers with re-entry labour permits would be able to travel to the countries of their employment, as flight services are only allowed from Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, the United States, Canada and European countries, where real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests are available.
Flights from other labour receiving countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, where PCR tests are still restricted, so the migrant workers awaiting to travel to these countries will have to wait for a bit longer.
“Workers who can fly back are making their travel arrangements to go to the countries of their employment,” Pande told the Post. “The workers who had returned to Nepal on leave and still have valid contracts and re-entry labour permits can travel.”
Soon after Covid-19 cases started increasing in labour destination countries, where tens of thousands of Nepali workers have been working and living, the Nepal government in mid-March had stopped sending workers to those countries.
Three months later in mid-June, the Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre decided that Nepali citizens, including the migrant workers who had returned home during their job break, would be allowed to fly back as per the recommendation of the Labour Ministry.
The decision, which would only benefit those on their annual work-leave, however, was criticised by labour migration researchers. The Labour Ministry had decided to provide re-entry labour permits to those workers who wished to travel back to the countries of their employment.
According to the Department of Foreign Employment, 5,675 migrant workers have received work permits to migrate again to several countries since July 2 until the issuance of labour permits was halted due to prohibitory orders imposed in the Kathmandu Valley and several other districts.
On Tuesday, the Tourism Ministry published a list of commercial and chartered flights scheduled to operate for the month September.
Rajan Paudel, spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, said any Nepali can travel on the return flights of planes that arrive from other countries.
“Migrant workers with valid visas and work permits can travel like any other passengers,” said Paudel. “There will be only a few flights arriving in the country, so the tickets for regular flights will be limited.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 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. Covid-19 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 deaths.
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.