MADRID: Spain is sending a plane to Nepal to pick up and bring home some 40 Spanish mountaineers, aid workers and others who have been affected by the travel bans imposed amid high coronavirus infection rates there.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said Monday that the plane will also take ventilators and other medical supplies to Nepal to treat patients with COVID-19.
The mountaineers had called on authorities to repatriate them, a move met with criticism from those who said a pandemic is not a time to travel abroad to climb Mount Everest or other major peaks in the Himalayas.
Nepal is experiencing a coronavirus surge with record numbers of new infections and deaths. Authorities imposed a lockdown across most of the country last month and have extended it until the end of May.
China has also cancelled attempts to climb Mount Everest from its side of the world's highest peak because of fears of importing COVID-19 cases from neighbouring Nepal.