Nepal is home away from home for some stranded foreign tourists during coronavirus crisis


KATHMANDU: Nepal, which for decades has been a magnet for adventurers, thrill-seekers and mountain lovers, is now a preferred destination for some foreign tourists seeking protection from the deadly coronavirus that has been wreaking havoc across the globe.
Five foreign tourists, including an Indian doctor, have been staying together like a family at a guest house in the picturesque tourist hub of Pokhara in Western Nepal for more than three weeks as the Himalayan nation is going through a lockdown.
They were visiting the country when the lockdown was announced on March 24 and since then have been staying at Pushkar Guest House in Lakeside of Pokhara Municipality.
Talking to Nepali language online newsportal Setopati, Indian national Dr Akash Yadav says he is spending one of the “happiest moments” of his life in Pokhara during the lockdown.
Yadav, who recently joined Apollo Hospital after completing the MBBS and wanted to do Masters of Surgery at a medical college in Nepal, says he enjoys the company of other foreign travellers and feels safe in the country.
Originally from Gorakhpur, Yadav had moved to Hyderabad and arrived in Nepal just before the outbreak of the coronavirus for his admission either at Manipal Medical College in Pokhara or Institute of Medicine in Kathmandu.
Migyul is a French photographer and painter, who left his country two years ago, reached Pokhara just before lockdown after completing trekking near the Everest Basecamp.
He met Nata, a woman from Oman, in Kathmandu after returning from the trekking and the two made a plan to visit Pokhara together.
The lockdown was imposed just before they were about to embark on another trekking journey to the Annapurna Basecamp from Pokhara. Now, they are waiting for the lockdonwn to end to start their journey. The two are planning to visit India after life returns to normal.
Another tourist Kiran, from Scotland, UK, had arrived in Nepal on March 1 on a six-week visit and reached Pokhara last month for a trip.
He thinks Nepal is more safe than the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dyamino, who is from Italy, does not want to go back even after the lockdown ends as he feels the country has been devastated by the pandemic.
The tourists are staying like a family and the guesthouse owner has waived their expanses for one week due to the lockdown imposed in response to contain the coronavirus, leaving many tourists stranded.
Nepal on Tuesday extended the nationwide lockdown until April 27 as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The number of infected persons in Nepal jumped to 30 after 14 more people, including 12 Indians, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. The country has not recorded a single death so far.
According to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a total of 154,142 people have died and 2,242,868 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus that originated in China in November last year.
Over 35,000 people have died in the US and the country has 701,131 infections, the highest in the world. Italy and the UK are among the worst affected countries with 22,745 and 14,576 deaths reported respectively.


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