As a measure to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Wednesday waived import duties placed on surgical masks and hand sanitizers.
Maldives Customs Service (MSC) confirmed the President's decision to eliminate customs duties and processing fees imposed on businesses importing surgical masks and hand sanitizers, effective March 18, until the presently-declared public health emergency over COVID-19 is lifted.
The law on imports and exports vests the President with the authority to waive import duties on certain goods and items under specific circumstances.
The customs had earlier imposed a 15 percent import duty tax on surgical masks, while hand sanitizers were levied a 10 percent duty.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many residents in capital city Malé stocked up on surgical masks and hand sanitizers after which shops and pharmacies proceeded to raise the price of such goods. State Trading Organization (STO), in response, intervened to control its sales.
Health professionals however advised against the use of surgical masks, unless an individual exhibited symptoms for COVID-19.
As of now, there are 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maldives, including a tourist couple on a liveaboard, two cases from Anantara Dhigu, five foreign nationals from Kuredu Island Resort as well as two foreign citizens from Sandies Bathala and Kuramathi Maldives each. No locals have tested positive for the virus as of yet.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 219, 000 and claimed over 8, 960 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 85, 670 have recovered.