14th April 2020

An update on COVID-19 in Nepal from Country Director

Col. Richard GoodmanA message from the In-Country Director of GWT, Colonel Richard Goodman MBE:

“At this time of writing Nepal has only twelve officially recorded COVID-19 cases.  However, it is highly likely that there are some additional undetected cases.  After issuing some preliminary and precautionary measures in early March, the Government of Nepal took the bold step to declare a pre-emptive partial lockdown on 20 March, followed two days later by a full lockdown.  To date the lockdown appears to be holding well within Nepal, with very little movement within the country apart from essential services.  The Nepali government’s most recent announcement states that the lockdown will continue until 15 April.  Likewise, the international airport has been closed for over 20 days now – the only flights being for specifically authorised repatriation flights for foreign nationals – and will remain closed until 30 April.  No-one, including Nepali nationals, is allowed to enter Nepal on these flights.  We expect both the lockdown and the flight suspension to be extended beyond the current dates.  Although the country is in a ‘pre-outbreak’ state, the secondary effects of Nepal trying to break the chain of transmission of the virus is starting to have some impact, notably economic.

Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Nepal has stated that the welfare and safety of the British Mission’s staff, dependants and those Gurkha veterans supported by the Gurkha Welfare Trust remains a clear priority.

In regard to our Gurkha veteran community, the British Embassy has already been engaged in the securing the necessary approvals from the Government of Nepal to continue to allow Gurkha Welfare Trust vehicles limited freedom of movement during the national lockdown in order to deliver essential services (such as the delivery of medical and pension paying services).  Additionally, the British Embassy is currently seeking permission from the Government of Nepal to re-purpose our Rural Water & Sanitation Programme (RWSP) staff to assist with equipping Nepal’s COVID-19 contingency facilities in order to help the wider national effort.”

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