As India steps up measures to control coronavirus spread, smaller border points with Nepal likely to be closed

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - Indian embassy says measures, however, do not currently have any impact on normal travel of Nepali nationals to India

As India has stepped up measures to control the spread of coronavirus, issuing a travel advisory for foreign and Indian nationals, its embassy in Kathmandu said on Thursday that the current measures are solely for the purposes of managing public health safety and that these measures do not have any impact on normal travel of Nepali nationals to India.

“Keeping in view the ramifications of current global spread of Covid-19 on public health and safety, certain health safety measures are being implemented for foreign and Indian nationals entering into and exiting from India,” the Embassy of India said in a statement. “The primary intention is to ensure the health and safety of both Indian as well as foreign nationals with bare minimum inconvenience to travel and mobility. These measures would be continuously reviewed depending on the evolving situation.”

These measures, however, according to the embassy, do not currently have any impact on normal travel of Nepali nationals to India--either by air or by existing land routes 

Nepal and India share about 1,800-kilometre open border, and thousands of people cross the border daily. About two dozen checkpoints, half of them major ones, are officially in operation along Nepal-India border.

A senior official at the Nepali embassy in New Delhi said though there has been no formal communication from the Indian side, India could close some smaller border points in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak. 

As of Thursday, India has reported 73 confirmed cases. 

The official said that the Indian side may take a decision to open only those borders which will not block the supply system to Nepal.

If the decision is made to close small border points, it will mostly affect those Nepalis who go to India for work from rural parts.

India has already closed its border with Myanmar since last Tuesday. 

India has said it will suspend issuing visas, barring a select few categories, to foreigners effective from Friday. The suspension will remain until April 15. 

The embassy said that existing travel arrangements for Nepali nationals will remain unaffected.

“There will be intensified health inspections at all entry points and any traveller, Indian, Nepali or from third countries presenting Covid-19 symptoms or with recent travel history to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany may possibly be subject to quarantine if so required,” said the embassy.

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