State-run Aasandha Company Ltd and National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) have decided to provide financial support for the Maldivians stranded in India as all airports across India were shut down on Sunday.
The aforementioned companies will bear the costs of food and accommodation for those stuck in Cochin, following the cancellation of the last Maldivian flight headed to capital Male' from Cochinprior to India's airport closure. Island Aviation Services, the company that operates the national airline, is yet to make a statement on any aspect of the issue.
NSPA and Aasandha's financial help will be provided to those in need via the Maldivian consulate established in India. The hotline number of the consulate is +919847702554.
Noting that authorities are trying their best to extend assistance to anyone in need, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid tweeted on Saturday that "a special effort" was being made "to reach those stranded in India, Sri Lanka & Nepal due to flight cancellations".
Speaking in a press briefing held by the National Emergency Operation Centre, the Under Secretary of President's Office Mabrouk Abdul Azeez assured that the state is working on identifying and assisting those who need medical aid and accomodation, as many Maldivians are currently in India for various purposes.
He further explained that Maldivians in other countries under lockdown, such as Phillipines and Malaysia, are also facing such situations, adding that the state was following similar procedures to help them as well.
The Indian government shut down all airports across the country at 0000hrs on March 22 in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Airports will remain closed until March 29.
Nine Maldicians were residing in Wuhan City, China, when the city was placed under lockdown in January following the virus outbreak. Maldivians in the area wishing to return home were evacuated in a joint effort led by the Maldivian and Indian governments. They arrived safetly to Maldives following a 14-day quarantine period in India.
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 308,400 and claimed over 13,000 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 95,800 have recovered.