Maldives Police Service on Friday night arrested two employees of a resort in capital Kaafu Atoll, who broke travel ban restrictions currently implemented amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and fled to the southern island of Fuvahmulah.
According to the police, the two men aged 30 and 29 illegally arranged transport off the resort on March 19 and escaped to the capital city of Male'. They later caught a flight to Fuvahmulah City on the night of March 20.
Police stated that they were apprehended in Fuvahmulah around 2325 hrs the same night and taken under police custody.
The magistrate court of Fuvahmulah City remanded the two men for a period of 15 days on Saturday.
Police added that they were investigating the case.
An employee of South Palm Resort in Addu Atoll was also arrested earlier this month, when he attempted to flee the resort under travel ban and swim to the island of Hulhumeedhoo.
These attempted breakouts come in the wake of Health Protection Agency (HPA)’s announcement on March 15, banning all travel between resorts and inhabited islands for a 14-day period in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The ban was implemented under the state of public health emergency declared in Maldives on March 12, on the order of Director General of Public Health Maimoona Aboobakuru.
Maldives, as well as many other countries, has since moved to quarantine areas with suspected cases, and isolate suspected and confirmed cases alike. However, despite significant public pressure to do so, and although all movement from resorts to islands is now restricted, the country is yet to issue a lockdown blocking all incoming travel from other countries.
As such, resort employees currently face the highest risk of exposure to the virus.
Maldives currently has 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10 active cases. The country recorded its first two recoveries on Friday, and the third this Saturday.
No Maldivians have tested positive for the virus as of yet. So far, only tourists and resort employees have confirmed infections with no local transmissions.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 284,500 and claimed over 11,800 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 93,500 have recovered.