The Nepal government has closed its borders with India and China for a week starting Monday, in a bid to prevent a possible outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Himalayan nation.

Although the cross-border human movement is halted till midnight of March 29, supply of goods from the countries will continue as usual, Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada told a press conference on Sunday night.

“The government took the decision to seal both the southern and the northern borders as the entire South Asia and South East Asia are heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. There is a greater risk of the disease spreading into Nepal due to cross-border human movement,” Khatiwada said.

Nepal, which shares an 1,800-km open border with India, has total 37 motorable land entry points with it, while with China it has four such entry points.

The government’s decision to seal the border with India and China came following its decision to suspend all international flights to and from Nepal effective from March 22 to March 31 as a precautionary measure to control the spread of COVID-19.

Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa on Sunday held a discussion with Indian Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra on closing the border, officials said, adding that the two sides agreed to cooperate with each other to contain the coronavirus spread.

The Nepal government will develop the Armed Police Force (APF) hospital in Kathmandu as a dedicated medical centre for COVID-19 patients, Khatiwada said.

The government will deploy medics from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the paramilitary forces to treat COVID-19 cases, if any, he said.

The government has also decided to set up quarantine facilities at provincial and local levels as a precautionary measure to provide quick treatment to people infected with the deadly virus.

Khatiwada said the government will contribute Rs 500 million to the Corona virus fund it has created to purchase logistics to be used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in case of an outbreak.

All Cabinet ministers will donate their one-month salary to the fund, he said.

Meanwhile, prominent industrialist and Norvic International Hospital chairman Basanta Kumar Chaudhary has announced to donate NPR 100 million to fund.