US allows diplomats, embassy families to leave Nepal as COVID-19 cases rise

US allows diplomats, embassy families to leave Nepal as COVID-19 cases rise

Virus Outbreak Nepal
A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen in an ambulance outside an emergency ward as he waits for a bed to be allotted at a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 6, 2021. (Photo: AP/Niranjan Shrestha)

WASHINGTON: The State Department said on Friday (May 8) it is allowing non-essential diplomats and the families of all American staff at the US embassy in Kathmandu to leave Nepal at government expense due a surge in coronavirus cases.

The department also advised private Americans to reconsider any plans they may have to visit the Himalayan country and asked those already there who wish to leave to submit information to the embassy. That step suggests the embassy may organise charter flights out of the country in the absence of regularly scheduled commercial flights.

“On May 7, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of family members of US government employees and non-emergency US government employees from Nepal,” the department said. "Commercial flights departing Nepal are currently not regularly available. US citizens who wish to depart Nepal should register their interest with the embassy."

READ: 'Human catastrophe' as India's COVID-19 surge spreads to Nepal

Nepal borders India, which is seeing a devastating surge in COVID-19 cases. The State Department has already implemented so-called “authorised departure” for non-essential workers and families of staff at US embassies and consulates in India.

Doctors in Nepal have warned of a major crisis as daily cases hit record highs and hospitals were running out of beds and oxygen. Nepal reported 9,070 new confirmed cases on Thursday, compared with 298 a month ago. The number of fatalities also reached peaks with 58 on Wednesday and 54 on Thursday, for a total of 3,529.

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Source: AP/ac