Kathmandu, Feb 6 (IANS) Crucial meetings between the governments of Nepal and China, along with a number of Beijing-led infrastructure projects, have been delayed amid the fast-spreading novel coronavirus outbreak, a media report said on Thursday.
So far, four meetings with China have been postponed due to the outbreak, The Kathmandu Post report quoted Sushil Lamsal, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Nepali Embassy in Beijing, as saying.
An official at the Finance Ministry confirmed that a bilateral meeting that would discuss Chinese assistance to Nepal and the expediting of Chinese-led projects has also been cancelled by Beijing.
The first meeting of the Nepal-China Trade Cooperation Committee, which was agreed to during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Nepal last October, has been postponed.
Similarly, a meeting on agriculture cooperation and another with the Chinese Academy of Sciences were also delayed, government officials told The Kathmandu Post.
In addition to the meetings, a number of Beijing-led infrastructure projects will also be delayed as Chinese nationals working at these projects in various capacities were stuck in China who went home for the Chinese New Year, said an official from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Meanwhile, Rajan Pokhrel, Director-General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, told The Kathmandu Post that the ongoing construction of two international airports in Pokhara and Bhairahawa have already been affected.
According to Pokhrel, out of 300 Chinese workers at the Pokhara International Airport project, 150 went home to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
In Bhairahawa, only 40 skilled Chinese workers remain out of 80.
As of Thursday, the the virus has left at least 563 dead among the 28,018 infected in mainland China, with two deaths registered in the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Although about 20 countries have identified cases, China accounts for about 99 per cent of those infected.
In South Asia, India has reported three coronavirus, while Sri Lanka and Nepal have confirmed one each.