It was reported earlier that Indian nationals who are stuck in India due to the coronavirus travel restrictions imposed by a number of countries, are now using Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, to fly abroad (‘Indian nationals use Nepal to circumvent travel bans resulting in crowding in hotels at Kathmandu‘, 25 Apr).
It is said that the Indian nationals are using Kathmandu as a transit point to fly to countries like Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Hong Kong, which have all banned direct flights from India.
“Despite Nepal itself seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases and fatalities, and a week-long lockdown in New Delhi, neither India nor Nepal and destination countries have so far stopped the roundabout route,” Nepali Times wrote.
“This has led to a several-fold increase in air fares for the daily two flights between New Delhi and Kathmandu. While the 1 hour and 15 minute Kathmandu-Delhi flights cost Rs9,000 this week, Delhi-Kathmandu tickets are selling for up to Rs45,000.”
Currently, India and Nepal have an “air bubble” agreement on the Kathmandu-Delhi route served by Air India and Nepal Airlines. Typically, the Indian nationals will spend 2 weeks in hotels in Kathmandu because of requirements by countries that passengers should not be in India in the past 14 days before arriving at the destination countries.
Between 1-18 April, 5,250 Indian nationals flew out of Kathmandu airport, reported the Nepali Times. It further observed that hotels in Kathmandu are packed with travellers from India.
And in Singapore, there have already been cases of Indian nationals using Nepal as a transit point before arriving here.
Pre-departure COVID-19 tests in Nepal
For pass holders wanting to enter Singapore, they must also obtain approval from the Manpower Ministry (MOM) before they can arrive here. According to MOM’s website information, pass holders coming from Nepal would need to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before departure to Singapore. They must also take an on-arrival COVID-19 test and serve SHN for the next 2 weeks.
For Nepal, the Ministry of Health (MOH) did not specifically state which labs or authorities to go to for taking the COVID-19 Pre-Departure Test.
It merely said, “Where countries are not listed… travellers should seek advice from the country’s Department of Health or Ministry of Health equivalent for approved COVID-19 PCR test providers.”
Unfortunately, to save costs, some of the travellers have resorted to getting fake PCR test reports in Nepal.
In Jan this year, Nepal police arrested seven migrant workers at the airport for attempting to travel to the UAE with fake coronavirus test reports.
The seven were said to have shown “suspicious behaviour” during the airport check-in process. The airline company then became suspicious and contacted the respective hospitals from where the reports were purportedly issued.
The hospitals replied that the reports were not issued by them. Police were called and the seven were duly arrested.
It’s not known if the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore or MOH checks the validity of any of the COVID-19 Pre-Departure Test reports submitted by the travellers when they enter Singapore.
It is, of course, an offence to submit any false documentations to the Singapore government.