Nepal Halts All Mountaineering Expeditions, Suspends Tourist Visas

At the meeting, it was decided to revoke the already issued or to be issued permits for the spring climbing season.

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Nepal has halted all mountaineering expeditions, including Mount Everest ascents, and stopped issuing on-arrival tourist visas after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and urged countries to take precautionary measures.

The Himalayan country attracts mountaineers from all over the world and earns millions of dollars a year from Everest permits. Nepal has so far confirmed only one case of coronavirus, though dozens of people suspected to have coronavirus were admitted to the government hospital for tests.

A high-level coordination committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel during a meeting on Thursday night of 12 March decided to suspend climbing permits for spring expeditions on Mt Everest and other mountains due to the coronavirus that has spread to more than 100 countries and region.

At the meeting, it was decided to revoke the already issued or to-be-issued permits for the spring climbing season.

China on Thursday also suspended foreign expeditions on the north side of Mount Everest in Tibet. The Tibet Mountaineering Association (TMA) said that if a climber gets infected, the high altitude and rough terrain on Mt Everest would make it difficult to provide appropriate treatment.

The Nepal government also decided to suspend on-arrival visas for tourists entering the country from the immigration point at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

In the beginning, the government had suspended the on-arrival visa for tourists from five highly-affected countries, which has now been extended in view of COVID-19 being designated as a pandemic, said government spokesperson and Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada.

The meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office also held discussions on Nepal’s preparedness to stay safe from the pandemic, according to officials.

As part of preparedness measures, the government has decided to additionally set up quarantine zones and isolation wards and increase the supply of equipment and test kits for the virus with the WHO identifying Nepal as a high-risk nation.

Similarly, health workers and representatives of Nepal Red Cross, Nepal Scouts and other social institutions associated with medical sector would be put on standby.

(This article has been published in arrangement with PTI)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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