Bangla Sunday, September 20, 2020

Nepal to send a plane to evacuate Nepalis stranded in Wuhan

The government of Nepal is preparing to send a Nepal Airlines plane on Saturday to evacuate Nepalis stranded in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The plan comes as Nepalis stuck in Hubei, most of them students, sought international support, alleging that Kathmandu failed to heed their repeated requests.

The government’s delay in sending a plane and wrapping up other preparations at home—setting up quarantine and isolation facilities, ensuring special ambulances to transport the evacuees and training human resources—have also been criticised.

A 274-seater Nepal Airlines Airbus A330 aircraft shall bring home at least 180 Nepalis who have registered their names at the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing seeking evacuation from Wuhan, the city where the virus originated. The deadly virus has killed more than 900 people and infected 40,000.

A senior official at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation told the Post that the Nepal Airlines Airbus with four medical doctors, three captains, six members of the cabin crew and four support staff on board will fly to Wuhan from Kathmandu at 11.15hrs on Saturday. Touch down in the Chinese city is expected at around 15.45hrs.

As the stranded Nepalis are scattered in various cities in Hubei Province, the Chinese authorities need to assemble them at the Wuhan airport—it is not clear how much time it will take for them to do that. The return flight will be around five hours long.

Although the government plans to house the evacuees at the Nepal Electricity Authority Training Centre in Kharipati, Bhaktapur, protests by local residents have forced officials to look for alternatives. The evacuees, along with crew members, doctors and supporting staff on the flight to Wuhan, need to be quarantined for two weeks.

A pressure group formed by family members of Nepalis stuck in Wuhan has been frequenting various ministries demanding their kin be evacuated at the earliest.