Locals stuck in neighbouring Sri Lanka due to the nation-wide lock down issued by the Sri Lankan government amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic were brought back Sunday night on a Maldivian flight.
National airline Maldivian's Public Relations Manager Moosa Waseem confirmed that 100 passengers were safely transported to Maldives on a flight that landed at Velana International Airport at 2145hrs.
Although Maldivian initially scheduled two flights to evacuate Maldivians in Colombo, this number was later reduced to one. Passengers boarded the flight after purchasing one-way tickets for MVR 4,626.
According to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by Health Protection Agency (HPA) to contain the spread of virus within the community, all arrivals, with the exception of tourists, must complete a 14-day period at a quarantine facility.
Therefore, all the Maldivians that were brought back on Sunday will only be released after completing the quarantine period, if their test results come back negative.
The chartered flight from Colombo to Male' was the first operation carried out by Maldivian airlines to bring back locals stranded in foreign countries due to travel restrictions implemented in response to the pandemic.
Another flight aims to evacuate Maldivians at Cochin, India, on Monday. One-way tickets for this chartered flight cost MVR 4,086.
The state assured that efforts were underway to bring back Maldivians stuck in other countries, such as Bangladesh, as well.
Speaking at a media briefings held by National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC), President's Office's Undersecretary Mabrouq Abdul Azeez affirmed that Maldivians stranded at any foreign countries will be brought back home, adding that no one will be abandoned to live in fear.
"We will continue to try to bring back people in other countries, as well at the ones remaining behind in those countries [India and Sri Lanka], as we get the opportunity", he said.