Kathmandu, June 2: Nepali Army (NA) will be mobilised to manage the citizens who will arrive home from the third countries and India. Many Nepalis wishing to come home have been left stranded in different countries for the past two months due to COVID-19 restrictions. A Cabinet meeting on Saturday approved an ‘Order prepared to facilitate to bring the Nepali citizens home from abroad-2020’ submitted by the high-level committee formed to prevent and control COVID-19 under Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel. The Order was prepared by a team comprising public health experts, doctors, government and the security officials from three security bodies - working at the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre-Operation, Chhauni, of the Nepali Army. The Order has several provisions in its 11 Sections, making security bodies, the federal, state and local governments accountable for the rescue and facilitation works. As per the Order, the government will mobilise army in setting up additional quarantines across the country and the Kathmandu Valley in 10 days before the government starts airlifting the stranded Nepalis from abroad, according to joint-secretary and one of the members of CCMC-Ops Santa Bahadur Sunar, representing the Ministry of Defence. The Order has clearly stated the specific roles and responsibilities of all the bodies associated with infectious disease and relief and rescue works. Although it is the responsibility of the local bodies and administration offices to control and regulate people coming from India, after the endorsement of the work plan, Nepal Army will have the responsibility in regulating the entry of people coming from India, according to Nepal Army source that declined to be named. The Order has also given responsibility to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the concerned Nepali embassies abroad to identify, set priority and collect details of Nepali citizens to be airlifted from the third countries within 10 days.
Holding centres The action plan has envisioned establishment of a holding centre right at the arrival spot for those coming by air as well as road. Officials from the local bodies, district administration, Nepali Army and Nepal Police will collect the details of each person at the holding centre. The State government will help identify the holding centre near the border points and manage accordingly under the leadership of State government there, according to the Order. Identification of hotels which will be developed as quarantine to keep the people coming from the third countries at least for 14 days will be coordinated by the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation. A provision of having personal health certificate is made mandatory to all those coming from the third countries. Officials to be deployed in airport from the Ministry of Health will coordinate in verifying their health certificates. Responsibility of arranging and conducting flight is given to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism and Civil Aviation. Transportation will also be managed by CCMC-Ops right from the holding centres to hotel quarantines in case of the Kathmandu Valley and the State government will be accountable for taking people from holding or hotel quarantines up to their hometowns. Travel routes and buses will be managed by the Nepali Army in coordination with the Transport Management Department.
Free mobile SIM cards at holding centres All the Nepali citizens arriving from abroad will also be provided with mobile SIM cards free of cost for their details, and have to compulsorily fill up a self-declaration form of their health at the centres and lastly have to download Hamro Swastha mobile application to continuously share their personal health condition. Security responsibility of the quarantines is given to army, the APF, and Nepal Police in different layers and structures. Seven Ministers of the Federal Government are also given responsibility as focal Minister to coordinate and establish
communication with the State government in managing the quarantines, according to joint-secretary Sunar. Ministry of Urban Development is given the responsibility to establish quarantines in Kharipati of Bhaktapur, Nagarjun, Kathmandu, Manamohan Hospital, Swoyambhu, and Kathmandu Medical College for those citizens who cannot afford hotel charges for quarantine and food. There is a separate provision for those who can afford pay for hotel as quarantine centre. Charges for hotel accommodation, food and travel should be borne by themselves. The fees will be charged under the government’s terms. The Ministry of Finance will release money only to the local bodies for managing and operating quarantines at their own costs. The local bodies will be given money estimating Rs 175 as food expenses per person per day calculating the amount for 14 days of stay in quarantine. However, those people who come from India and wish to stay in hotel quarantine should bear all the expenses themselves, according to joint-secretary Sunar. Although the government had decided to airlift 25,000 Nepalis from third countries in the first lot, officials at the CCMC-Ops have expected their number in between 600,000 to 1.3 million.