24th March 2020

BREAKING NEWS – Covid 19 and The Gurkha Welfare Trust


Updates from Nepal


 Advice for UK supporters


COVID 19 in Nepal

Thus far, Nepal has been largely unaffected by COVID-19 thanks in part to the swift and effective actions of its government limiting movement in and out of the country. However, the risk remains high.

Should the worst happen and an outbreak occur in Nepal, the consequences could be devastating given the poorly-equipped healthcare facilities and the lack of medical infrastructure.

The consequences for our Gurkha veterans and widows would be no less severe. With hundreds in their 80s, 90s and even 100+, their age and underlying health conditions would make them particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.

We are keeping abreast of all government directives in-country and ensuring our staff adhere to the guidance provided.

We received a letter from our Patron HRH Prince of Wales on 27 March wishing the Trust well in these unprecedented times. You can read the letter here.

Our Vice Patron Joanna Lumley OBE has issued a rallying cry to staff and supporters. You can watch the video here.

Latest updates from Nepal

Headlines: 

Our staff at our headquarters in Pokhara continue to work remotely.

Our vehicles continue to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies to our 20 Welfare Centres across Nepal.

Home visits for vulnerable Gurkha veterans and widows continue but for critical cases only.

Our pension payments to Gurkha widows and veterans are proceeding as scheduled (though with necessary precautions and bank transfers where possible).

All projects (including home building, clean water installation and school building has ceased temporarily).

We have reduced staff numbers at our Medical Clinics but essential pharmacy distribution continues.

🔈26 May

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal continues to rise steadily, and now stands at 675.  In the last 7 days, the average daily cases reported is 50. Positive cases have now been reported in 40 Districts across all seven Provinces.

We are planning to increase the scaling of PPE at our Welfare Centres so that they have the option to distribute limited quantities to local health and security institutions. PPE was donated to the District Hospital in Diktel last week. The Government of Nepal is focussing its efforts on supplying COVID Hub Hospitals and Isolation Facilities, which is leaving other hospitals and health posts under-resourced.  Because our Gurkha veterans and widows still use these facilities, donating small quantities of PPE will help keep them protected.

🔈15 May

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal has risen sharply during the week to 258.  The pattern of cases remains mainly Terai-based, but isolated cases have also been reported in Kathmandu and other areas.

In response to the increase of cases, the Home Ministry has imposed new, strict restrictions on movement between Districts.

In response to the Home Ministry restrictions on inter-District movement, we have issued guidance to our Welfare Centres to continue the delivery of essential services (ie; medical and pension paying) for our Gurkha veterans and widows in our vehicles with diplomatic plates (and prior permission to travel).

Work on one of our Major School buildings at Jhapa re-started yesterday.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) installations and PPE distribution has now been completed at 6 COVID facilities in Pokhara, Dharan, Biratnagar and.  Ad hoc hand-washing facilities have been installed at 30 village locations, with COVID related WASH awareness advice and training.

🔈11 May

The lockdown in Nepal has been extended by the Government of Nepal until 18 May.

There are now 120 positive COVID-19 cases in Nepal. The recent increase in cases continue to occur in Terai districts bordering India. There are no indications yet whether these new cases are primary or secondary/tertiary infections.

All of our Rural Water and Sanitation programmes, piping clean water to remote villages, have now been re-started. 71 have been completed since the lockdown started, allowing 2 new projects to start this week.

🔈28 April

The Government of Nepal have now announced the lockdown will continue until the end of Thursday 7 May and have also extended the suspension of international and domestic flights up until 15 May.

Since the lockdown was first imposed on 20 March we have been able to conduct 333 vital deployments during which 1,172 Gurkha veterans and widows have been visited and given essential funds and medical provision.

🔈24 April

No significant change to the overall situation, however the spike in reported cases in Udaypur this week has prompted a strictly enforced containment of that district, and a heightened concern in Dharan, where we have a Welfare Centre.

The number of positive reported cases of COVID-19 in Nepal is now 48.

Our Rural Water and Sanitation team have re-started a total of 31 suspended projects .and are being re-supplied with funds, food and material if required. The availability of construction material will be the limiting factor on some projects.

Our doctors from our Welfare Centre in Kaski continue to operate the Gandaki Health Emergency Operation Centre hotline this week. Their week-long rotational shift finishes tomorrow, and they will be rostered to continue this contribution in the coming weeks.

🔈21 April

Lockdown is currently confirmed until 27 April.

All staff who can are working from home and the majority of our projects are paused.

There was a spike in cases of COVID-19 in Nepal over the weekend (now at 31 total), though all were identified as overseas transmissions and thus the Government of Nepal remain in ‘stage 2’ of their response.

Though our vehicles continue to deliver vital medication and healthcare, in Dharan, where many of the new cases were reported we have temporarily paused movement. Our team are working with local authorities to ensure that essential care can be prioritised once movement restarts.

Our water and sanitation team have now re-started a total of 30 projects across the country. Our water projects bring clean and safe drinking water to remote communities in Nepal. 10 projects currently remain suspended.

🔈14 April

Our in-country Director has posted a message on our website re. the importance of supporting elderly Gurkha veterans and widows during this time.

There have been two new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kailali and Rautahat Districts, bringing the number of reported COVID-19 cases in Nepal to 14. Both new cases were imported from India. Contact tracing is ongoing for the latest cases. Nepal remains at Stage 2 transmission.
The current lockdown expires tomorrow, but is highly likely to be extended. Announcement expected today. TIA and national airports remains closed until 30 Apr.

Medicine distribution and financial aid to Gurkha veterans and widows was successfully conducted at our Patrol Bases in Trisuli

🔈7 April

The Government of Nepal have now extended the lockdown until at least 15 April, We are working with local authorities to ensure our vehicles can still travel to deliver emergency aid to Gurkha veterans and widows.

It may be necessary, if the lockdown is extended further, for us to distribute financial support (the pension we pay to vulnerable veterans and widows) to pensioner’s homes via our mobile medical teams.

PPE and medical supply distribution to our Welfare Centres across the country continues.

🔈6 April

There are now 9 confirmed cases in Nepal and the first instance of local transmission.

Only medical personnel and medical supplies are permitted by the Government of Nepal to be in public – which allows us to continue caring for our most vulnerable Gurkha veterans and widows and providing medication and PPE where required.

We stand prepared to support our community should Nepal move to ‘Stage 3 transmission’.

🔈2 April

No significant change in the political or operational situation. Lockdown remains. Today is a public holiday (Chaitra Dashain). Minimum manning has been extended for GWT Staff not required for delivery of essential services. Duty cover remains in place.

🔈31 March

No significant change. Lockdown continues. The number of Gurkha veterans and widows reporting to our Area Welfare Centres for telephone consultations, medicine or pensions remains steady, and within the capacity of the minimum staffing we have arranged.  There have been some isolated incidents reported of veterans and widows not being permitted to travel to our Welfare Centres by local police – though we have been able to intervene.

🔈30 March

The Government of Nepal have now announced an extension of the lockdown until midnight on 7 April.

Our staff at our headquarters in Pokhara continue to work remotely.

Additional personal protection equipment and other medical supplies will continue to be distributed across our 21 offices over the next week.

Home visits for Gurkha veterans and widows remain for critical cases only.

🔈27 March

24/7 Area Welfare Centre duty cover will remain available, and an ‘on call’ doctor will be available in each of our key Medical Clinics for telephone consultations.

Staff at our headquarters in Pokhara continue to work from home.

A small number of Home Visits ongoing today to meet medical needs (mostly delivery of critical medicines to vulnerable Gurkha veterans and widows where local pharmacies are not available, or we have been unable to contact them.

Our vehicles have continued to distribute personal protection equipment and essential medical supplies reached Dharan yesterday.

🔈26 March

Though Nepal is now in full lockdown, movement of our vehicles continues thanks to government permission, allowing essential equipment and medication to be delivered.

Our 21 Area Welfare Centres are equipped with enough stocks to last two months.

Our staff at our headquarters in Pokhara continue to work remotely.

Pension payments for Gurkha veteran and widows at Chitwan, Tanahun and Terathum are ongoing.

One of our vehicles distributing PPE and essential medical supplies reached Bagmati yesterday, and will collect additional medical supplies from Buddha Air Cargo and move to Dharan in the east of Nepal.

We have reduced staff numbers at our Medical Clinics but essential pharmacy distribution continues.

🔈25 March

Staff in our headquarters in Pokhara continue to work remotely

Our pension payments to Gurkha widows and veterans are proceeding as scheduled (though with necessary  precautions and bank transfers where possible) in Chitwan, Tanahun and Terathum

Our Rural Water and Sanitation Programme is paused though many staff remain on-site. We are working on a recovery plan to bring them home.

Home visits to vulnerable Gurkha veterans and widows are restricted to critical cases only.

Our vehicles continue to deliver essential medication and personal protective equipment

Our Area offices are all now coordinating with provincial and district authorities to inform and seek support re. our current operations and movement.

🔈24 March

Since the Nepali government announced a nationwide lockdown we have retained the ability to provide what they refer to as “essential services” such as medical and healthcare albeit on a restricted basis – for the time being

All of our staff in our headquarters in Pokhara are working remotely.

Our vehicles are still able to travel still as a result of the diplomatic plates they have. We are using them to ensure that essential medication is able to get to those in need and that staff who were out on deployment can be retrieved.

We are working with local banks to ensure our pension can still be paid to the Gurkha veterans and widows who rely on it.

We have had to halt all planned deployments for the time being aside from essential hardship and medical visits for our most vulnerable people.

We have also stopped our Rural Water and Sanitation programme to minimise the risk of spread amongst remote communities.

Medical appointments at our clinics across the country are being conducted remotely where possible.

Our Residential Homes for vulnerable Gurkhas and widows continue to operate with a reduced staff number.

We're distributing PPE and extra medication to our Welfare Offices and Medical Clinics across Nepal.

As the situation progresses we are diligently staying abreast of developments to ensure minimal impact on those most important to us – our vulnerable Gurkha veterans and widows in Nepal and our dedicated staff both in Nepal and in the UK.

The situation means that we have now taken measures to protect and reduce risk. Some of these measures may mean an impact on you, our supporters.

Advice for UK supporters

What is The Gurkha Welfare Trust's financial situation?

The financial effects of this global pandemic will be significant, both in the immediate and longer term. We recognise that all our donors will be facing financial challenges as a result of Covid-19. However the Trust is well placed to be able to respond to the challenges through prudent management of our reserves, and our ability to cover our core expenses in the short term. We will do everything we can to mitigate against impact on those we exist to support –  Gurkha veterans, but we cannot do that alone and your continued support is vital in achieving this

How do I make a donation?

Your support is appreciated now more than ever.

All of our UK staff are now working remotely. The changes in working practice mean that letters and cheques payable to The Gurkha Welfare Trust will be processed on a reduced scale and so your patience is appreciated. Website donations will be unaffected and we would encourage those who would like to give a gift, to do so in that way.

We pride ourselves on thanking you, our supporters for all that you do. We hope you understand that in these testing times that will not always happen quickly. Nevertheless please know that your gift is hugely appreciated.

Make a donation via our website

Can I make a donation via text?

Text GURKHA to 70085 to donate £5.

Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £5 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text GURKHANOINFO to 70085.

How do I contact a member of staff?

If you need to contact a member of our team, we encourage you to do this online where possible via email or Facebook chat.

To get in touch with our UK GWT team:

Email us

Send us a Facebook message

Speak to a Nepali speaking person from the Gurkha Welfare Advice Centre

Email the Gurkha Welfare Advice Centre

If you would like to support us with a donation, please donate online below:

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