As confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bangladesh Air Force successfully evacuated a total of 71 Maldivians—53 stranded in Bangladesh and 18 Maldivians in Nepal on Monday.
In addition, a team of 10 medical professionals from Bangladesh arrived with the evacuees to assist Maldives' efforts in combatting the COVID-19 outbreak.
The arrangements with the Bangladeshi government also involve the repatriation of 70 undocumented Bangladeshi workers in the country on return of the Bangladesh Military flight.
Previously, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid thanked his Bangladeshi counterpart, AK Abdul Momen for assisting the Maldivian government and for his cooperation in repatriating undocumented Bangladeshi workers.
Bangladeshi citizens make up the majority of the expatriate population in Maldives, which numbers at over 144,600, out of which authorities earlier estimated that 63,000 were undocumented.
In a move to regularise undocumented immigrants in the country, the government announced re-registration for undocumented expatriates in 2019, to be completed within a six-month period. By late February, Ministry of Economic Development revealed that 32,000 immigrants were registered under this initiative.
As many expatriates live in small, unhygienic and congested spaces, particularly in capital Male' City, officials have expressed concern that a COVID-19 outbreak would put them at most risk of contracting and spreading the infection.
In April, the government revealed a decongestion plan to relocate approximately 1500 expatriate workers living in cramped conditions, designating Amin Hiya located in the suburb of Hulhumalé, for expatriate housing amidst the outbreak.
Recording its first cases involving expatriates on Sunday, authorities revealed that 13 Bangladeshi workers employed at Lily Enterprises, tested positive for the virus and was linked to an existing cluster involving the confirmed patient in the capital, MAV027.
Presently, of the 23 expatriates that tested positive for COVID-19 in Maldives, 21 are from Bangladesh.
Minister of Economic Affairs Fayyaz Ismail revealed that a total of 837 undocumented workers had submitted requests for repatriation after the government opened for registration on March 21.
Maldives' first confirmed case of COVID-19 from the capital city of Male', was recorded on April 15, involving a local woman who presented to the flu clinic in Malé after developing coronavirus-like symptoms. At present, the country has not identified an index patient for the outbreak.
As of now, Maldives records 67 confirmed and 51 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 16 recoveries. The latest development places the number of cases in Male' City, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, at 47.
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 166,041 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 635,875 people have recovered.