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Maldives repatriates 200 Bangladeshi nationals

Fathmath Shaahunaz
27 May 2020, MVT 11:54
Bangladeshi nationals at VIA, ready to board their repatriation flight. PHOTO/MALDIVIAN
Fathmath Shaahunaz
27 May 2020, MVT 11:54

The government of Maldives repatriated an additional 200 Bangladeshi nationals on Tuesday.

The Bangladeshi citizens, who were flown to Dhaka via the national airline Maldivian, included 111 undocumented workers, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Several foreign citizens, including tourists and expatriate workers, were stranded in Maldives when the government stopped issuing on-arrival-visas and closed its borders on March 27, in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the authorities as well as several foreign missions in Maldives have been working to arrange chartered flights for repatriation.

Bangladeshi citizens make up the majority of the expatriate population in Maldives, which numbers at over 144,600, out of which authorities had previously estimated that 63,000 were undocumented. Most of the expat population resides in capital Male', one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Malé has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15. The outbreak has disproportionately affected the expatriate population, the majority of whom live in highly congested quarters where it is impossible to reduce contact or exercise social distancing. Presently, Bangladeshi nationals account for over 50 percent of the individuals that tested positive for COVID-19 in the country.

In a move to contain the spread of the coronavirus, in particular within congested labour quarters, the administration has mobilised efforts to transfer expatriate workers to safer environments, including temporary shelters in Hulhumale', Thilafushi and Gulhifalhu.

Maldives presently records 1,438 confirmed and 1,201 active cases of COVID-19, five fatalities and 232 recoveries till date.

WHO has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 5.6 million people and claimed over 352,200 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 2.4 million people have recovered.