KATHMANDU, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The Nepali government on Saturday warned against celebrating the popular Holi festival, also known as festival of colour, due to the fear of novel Coronavirus.
The festival is celebrated in the northern hilly region on Monday and southern plain on Tuesday.
By issuing a press statement, Nepal's Home Ministry asked the people to avoid doing key activities of the festival such as gathering in a crowd, throwing coloured water to each other and rubbing colored powder on each other's faces. "As these activities are risky, it is requested to avoid them," the ministry said.
The ministry said although the festival helps to promote brotherhood among the people, high level alertness is necessary to avoid infection from the deadly disease.
So far Nepal has reported one confirmed case.
Kedarnath Sharma, spokesperson for the Home Ministry, told Xinhua on Saturday that the Nepali government wants the people not to celebrate the festival this year.
"We have urged people to at least avoid gathering in a place where strangers also reach," Sharma said. "If they want to celebrate, they can do it within the periphery at home among family members and trusted ones only."
The festival is one of the important festivals of Hindus around the world, particularly in Nepal and India.
Nepal is concerned more about risks as the number of infections is growing in India with which Nepal shares a porous border.
According to Sharma, the Nepali government has taken measures like discouraging cross-border movement of people and compulsory quarantine checking in over 40 border crossings between Nepal and India.
"People coming from third countries other than India through six major border crossings -- Pashupatinagar, Kakarbhitta, Birgunj, Biratnagar Bhairahawa and Rupadiya should produce health certificates compulsorily and also undergo quarantine checking by Nepali health desks before entering into Nepal," said Sharma. "Indian nationals also should undergo health check up to enter Nepal."
According to him, the local administrations have been ordered to coordinate with their Indian counterparts to stop cross-border movement in other 37 border crossings except in emergency situations. "Those who come to Nepal should also undergo quarantine checking," Sharma said.