Nepal extends lockdown until June 14, deploys army in most-hit areas

Sharada Khatri

KATHMANDU: The government of Nepal on Saturday extended the lockdown period till June 14 as the country continues to witness an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

The decision to extend the nationwide lockdown has been taken during a meeting of the Cabinet held at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar on Saturday after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Nepal increased to 1,401 with seven deaths.

Nepal has been under lockdown since March 24.

The Cabinet meeting has also decided to mobilize the army in the areas most affected by the coronavirus. The Cabinet took the decision on the recommendation of a meeting of the Security Council that was held earlier to the Cabinet meeting. The meeting also decided to close international borders and airports till june 30.

The meeting also approved an action plan to bring Nepalis stranded abroad.

A meeting of the High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 held on Friday had decided to repatriate Nepalis in urgency to return.

The committee had also officially designated 20 checkpoints in the country to bring Nepali citizens from India.

It should be noted that the government has allocated the ‘necessary’ budget to repatriate Nepalis stranded abroad due to coronavirus lockdown.

Presenting the budget for the coming Fiscal Year 2020/21 in the joint sitting of the Federal Parliament on Thursday, Finance Minister Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada had informed that the budget has been allocated for the repatriation of Nepalis who are facing serious health risks abroad and rendered jobless among other issues.

A large number of Nepalis living abroad want to return home. Up to 2.6 million Nepali migrants are estimated to be in the Gulf, Malaysia and Korea and many have lost their jobs due to coronavirus lockdowns in those countries and are willing to return.

Even after various countries including India have started rescuing their citizens, the government is being criticized from all quarters as Nepali citizens are still stranded. Many Nepalis have been stranded along the Nepal-India border.

Earlier, the Supreme Court (SC) had issued an interim order to the government to evacuate Nepalis who have been rendered jobless and having a hard time meeting daily needs in foreign countries.

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