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Nepal seals borders with China, India amid virus fears

Latest measures follow arrival of large number of Nepalese from across border in India

Deepak Adhikari   | 22.03.2020
Nepal seals borders with China, India amid virus fears

KATHMANDU, Nepal

Nepal on Sunday decided to seal its borders with India and China for a week to stem the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.

A meeting of the cabinet ministers chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli decided to close the international borders starting from Monday.

The move came in the wake of the World Health Organization's suggestions to seal its southern borders with India following the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

On Friday, Oli announced a ban on all international flights and urged people to venture out only for essentials.

The government meeting on Sunday also decided to send a list of testing kits, ventilators, monitors and mobile ambulances to China and India as Nepal faces shortages of equipment for health workers.

The government also set up a 500 million rupee ($4.1 million) fund to fight the virus, with the cabinet ministers pledging to contribute a month's salary, said Pradeep Gyawali, foreign affairs minister.

Tens of thousands of Nepalese working and living in Indian cities have returned home after COVID-19 cases emerged in India, with which it shares an open border.

There are fears that a large number of returnees, who were not properly screened in border crossings as they entered Nepal, could spread the disease.

Last week, the government ordered schools, colleges, cinema halls, gyms, clubs, swimming pools, museums to be shut until April 30.

The government also banned the gathering of more than 25 people in social and religious activities.

The country, so far, has only one confirmed case of coronavirus. But the government has come under fire for lack of preparedness to fight the pandemic.

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