Minister of Economic Affairs Fayyaz Ismail, on Saturday, revealed that 40,000 undocumented workers have registered with the government since September 2019.
Speaking at a press briefing held by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), the minister stated that efforts were underway to collect the expatriate workers' personal information and acquire necessary documentation in collaboration with the Bangladeshi embassy in Maldives.
He disclosed that the process may take four to five months to complete.
Bangladeshi nationals make up the majority of the expatriate population in Maldives, which numbers at over 144,600. Authorities earlier estimated that 63,000 of the expatriate population are undocumented.
Furthermore, Minister Fayyaz revealed that a total of 837 undocumented workers had submitted requests for repatriation after the government opened for registration on March 21.
Although 130 of the applicants possess passports, he stated that the repatriation process would be delayed due to Bangladesh's closure of borders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The economic minister previously revealed that deposit funds would be utilised as the first financial resource to repatriate undocumented expatriate workers.
A sum of MVR 8,000 is deposited for every Bangladeshi national at the time they are brought to Maldives for employment, with the figure being subject to amendment if a greater number of workers are hired.
As many expatriates live in small, congested spaces, particularly in capital Male' City, officials have expressed concern that a local COVID-19 outbreak would put them at great risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
Presently, Maldives has 20 confirmed and seven active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 13 recoveries. While there are five 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 1.6 million people and claimed over 102,700 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 376,330 people have recovered.