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State to set up new living quarters for high-risk expats

Shahudha Mohamed
27 April 2020, MVT 21:03
Expatriate workers unloading goods from a pick-up at the local market area. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
27 April 2020, MVT 21:03

The state announced on Monday that efforts are underway to establish more accommodation facilities to relocate a large number of high-risk expatriates working in the local market area of Male' City.

Speaking at the press briefing held by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed stated that a lot of COVID-19 cases are connected to the cluster condensed to the market area.

Therefore, the state is developing new accommodation facilities at Vilivaru and Gulhifalhu in Kaafu Atoll, to relocate these high risk workers.

This announcement comes at a time where 119 migrant workers have tested positive for the virus, of which 104 are Bangladesh nationals.

"The companies that some of these expatriates are working for has no knowledge of where they even sleep", the tourism minister said, adding that steps are being taken in an attempt to reduce the severity of the outbreak in Male'.

Minister Ali Waheed assured that the rights of these expatriates will be ensured during the transfer and at their new accommodations.

Noting that some expatriates live in horrific conditions in the capital, he affirmed that the state "will try to make better arrangements for them than the ones they currently have in Male'."

"In some quarters, if one of them is sleeping on a bed, two others will be sleeping under the bed", Ali Waheed described.

"Those places have now been placed under quarantined"

On April 21, relevant authorities launched monitoring operations centred around the living quarters of expatriate workers, having acknowledged that the congested nature of such zones placed these foreign nationals at a significantly higher risk of contracting the virus.

"Expatriates are also people who provide a service to Maldives, just as Maldivians do. Even under these circumstances, protecting and respecting humanity is the biggest priority for the state", said Ali Waheed.

"Unless safety can be provided for everyone, neither Maldivians nor foreigners will be able to emerge from this pandemic".

Maldives has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since its first confirmed case in the capital city of Male' on April 15 involving a local woman that sought assistance from a flu clinic in Malé after developing symptoms.

With this new development, Maldives records 226 confirmed, 209 active and two probable cases of COVID-19, with a total of 17 recoveries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 3 million people and claimed over 207,265 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 883,238 people have recovered.

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