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Partial lockdown in Nepal amid virus fears

Press Trust of India  |  Kathmandu 

Nepal has imposed a partial lockdown with the government suspending international flights, long-distance transport services and closure of education institutes to tackle the coronavirus outbreak which has claimed more than 11,000 lives globally so far.

The ?Nepal Communist Party-led government has also halted non-essential services by both private and public sectors starting from March 23 to April 3.

In a live telecast address to the nation on Friday, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said long-journey transport services will be suspended indefinitely from March 23.

International flight operations at Tribhuvan International Airport have been shut from March 22 till March 31. All schools and colleges have been closed and examinations postponed.

Oli said the government would coordinate with neighbouring countries to set up health desks at major border points to ensure no traveller was affected.

He said the government would encourage work-from-home system in the private sector.

The prime minister warned of stern action against those involved in black-marketing, hoarding and creating artificial shortages in the market.

Nepal has had just one confirmed case of coronavirus, but it is at risk due its location between China and India.

Thousands of people living temporarily in Kathmandu have started leaving for their homes in rural areas with growing fears of COVID-19.

Around 3 lakh people have already left Kathmandu since Tuesday.

Meanwhile, special worship at the Pashupatinath temple here has been suspended. However, regular worship will be conducted as usual, the Pashupati Area Development Trust said.

The trust authorities have also stopped 'bagmai aarati', a worship ritual on the banks of Bagmati River in the premises of Pashupati temple.

The number of devotee footfalls has declined at the temple amid virus fears.

In a statement, the temple trust said a group of more than 25 people will not be allowed at once at the temple to worship. Hand sanitizers have been made accessible on the temple premises.

In a separate incident, police arrested a 20-year-old youth for allegedly spreading rumours on social media regarding COVID-19 cases being hidden by a hospital here.

Cyber Bureau of Nepal Police arrested Bibek Thapa Magar of Ramechhap district, currently residing in Bhaktapur, according to Senior Superintendent of Police Nabindra Aryal.

Magar was arrested for allegedly spreading false information and causing public fear.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, March 21 2020. 19:14 IST