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COVID-19 Lockdown: Police arrest two in canoe for cross-island travel

Ahmed Aiham
20 April 2020, MVT 13:28
Aerial view of the airport in HDh.Kulhudhuffushi. PHOTO/IRUSHAD
Ahmed Aiham
20 April 2020, MVT 13:28

Maldives Police Service on Sunday, arrested two individuals for allegedly travelling from Nolhivaranfaru in Haa Dhaalu Atoll to Kulhudhuffushi City, located nearby.

According to authorities, two persons aged 23 and 30 were arrested after having swum on to the island. The two claimed that their canoe had capsized off the western coast of Kulhudhuffushi near the airport runway.

Police noted that the duo disembarked on the canoe without prior knowledge or authorization from the vessel's owner.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) on April 16, ordered a travel ban on all islands across Maldives as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The agency also prohibited gatherings anywhere outside of home, including private residences or public places. HPA especially warned against hosting parties and ceremonies, sporting activities, picnics, fishing trips and other social activities with special mention to celebrations that in a pre-COVID-19 world, would typically take place during present weeks in anticipation of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Authorities tightened the precautionary measures amidst the pandemic following the first confirmed case of community spread in Male' City, MAV021, a local female with no recent travel history, who presented to the flu clinic in Male after developing symptoms. She was tested positive on April 15.

HPA also placed five islands in Haa Alifu Atoll and two islands in Haa Dhaalu Atoll under monitoring when a close contact of the first confirmed COVID-19 patient (known as case MAV021) whilst in Male', had travelled back to Uligan, Haa Alif Atoll, via sea transport on April 15.

As of now, Maldives records 52 confirmed and 36 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 16 recoveries. Of the above, a total of 31 positive cases were found in capital city Male', one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Maldives is yet to identify an index patient for the outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 2.4 million people and claimed over 165,069 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 617,023 people have recovered.

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