National carrier Maldivian repatriated 200 Maldivians from Malaysia, landing in Maldives on Wednesday afternoon, amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The rescue flight was scheduled to bring back Maldivians stranded in Malaysia, where the coronavirus is reportedly spreading rapidly, leading to the Malaysian government declaring its administrative capital a ‘red zone’ and extending its movement control order (MCO).
Upon arrival, all individuals aboard the rescue flight were transferred to a quarantine facility in accordance with the Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which mandates that all incoming passengers to Maldives, with the exception of tourists, must be placed under quarantine for a 14-day period.
On March 17, due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia, Maldives restricted all incoming travel originating from the country.
On March 18, Malaysia enforced a MCO until March 31. The Malaysian government has since extended the restrictions to April 14, although it is expected to make an announcement on further extensions on Friday.
At present, Malaysia has recorded over 3900 cases of the novel coronavirus, as well as approximately 1320 recoveries and 63 deaths.
The Maldivian government has already evacuated 100 Maldivians stranded in neighbouring Colombo, Sri Lanka as well as 188 from Cochin, India on April 6 and April 7 respectively.
Further, officials have offered assurances that efforts to bring back locals stuck in other countries, such as Bangladesh, are similarly underway.
Maldives has 19 confirmed and six active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 13 recoveries. While there are two confirmed cases of Maldivians, no local-to-local transmissions have been recorded.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 1,434,200 people and claimed over 82,100 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 302, 450 people have recovered.