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180 Nepalis in China demand early evacuation as coronavirus death toll rises to 361

180 Nepalis in China demand early evacuation as coronavirus death toll rises to 361
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The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in the central Hubei province in December, has killed 361 with 57 deaths reported on Sunday while the...

Kathmandu: A total of 180 Nepalis, mostly students, living in China have approached the country's embassy in Beijing, demanding their immediate evacuation as they fear to contract the novel coronavirus that has claimed over 360 lives and infected thousands of people in the neighbouring country.

The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in the central Hubei province in December, has killed 361 with 57 deaths reported on Sunday while the number of confirmed cases has climbed to 17,205.

The Philippines on Sunday reported the first death outside China from the epidemic that has spread to 25 countries, including India, the US, the UK and Russia.

In China, all the deaths have been reported in Hubei Province - the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

The virus was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on January 31.

"A total of 180 Nepali nationals, mostly students, currently living in 17 cities in China, including Wuhan of Hubei, have registered their names with the embassy, expressing their desire to return home," Sushil Kumar Lamsal, deputy chief of mission at the Nepali Embassy in Beijing, was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post.

"Around 120 Nepalis from other Chinese provinces also want to return," Lamsal said.

The embassy has received 59 applications from Nepalis living in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei.

Nepalis living in five other cities in Hubei have also requested the embassy to airlift them to Nepal.

"As of Saturday evening, we have ascertained the names of 180 Nepalis living in Hubei. We have also apprised the Chinese government of our evacuation plan. As soon as the government decides to evacuate them, we will take the next step. We need to work on logistics to bring everyone to Wuhan airport in protective gear," Lamsal said.

The Chinese government has assured assistance in the evacuation of Nepalis from Wuhan, where Nepali officials won't be visiting as the city is under lockdown, the diplomat said.

Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said on Sunday that the government had finalised places where Nepalis could be kept after their evacuation from China.

"We have made arrangements to bring Nepalis back from China," Oli said.0

All of these applicants are students, except three who are children, Lamsal said.

"Those who have filed applications will be sent to Nepal on Wednesday evening via Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. A chartered Nepal Airlines Corporation aircraft will be used to airlift them," Lamsal told The Himalayan Times.

"As for those who have not contracted the disease, we will have to assure the Chinese government that they will be quarantined properly before they are sent home," the officials said.

Many in Nepal fear that homes could become potential incubator for rapid spread of the disease if the government releases those evacuated from China without keeping them in quarantine facilities to ascertain they have not contracted the virus.

The government has said it will quarantine the evacuees for two weeks before sending them home.

Bangladesh, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the USA have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan.

More countries are evacuating or planning to evacuate their citizens.

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