Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services on Tuesday, publicized guidelines to evacuate Maldivians stranded in the capital city Male' due to ongoing travel restrictions imposed amid the local community-wide outbreak following the global COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Ministry, priority will be given to individuals that arrived in the region to seek medical treatment through the national health insurance scheme 'Aasandha', and found themselves stranded thereafter.
As per guidelines, the ministry compiled its own listing of those registering to depart the region, prioritized by need;
- Caretakers with a child no older than 5-years-old seeking medical treatment and those that came to give birth
- Caretakers with an elderly individual over the age of 65 seeking medical treatment
- Caretakers with an individual seeking medical treatment for mental and/or physical disabilities
- Caretakers with an individual seeking treatment for a chronic health condition.
- Those that have purchased return tickets to their island of origin from April 15 till April 20.
- Students and families that have completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine period after returning from abroad but are stranded due to the travel restriction.
- Resort workers affected by travel restrictions to and from the resort island or temporary shut down of the resort.
- Former convicts released by the state upon completion of their sentences.
- Those that need to return to their islands as a result of financial repercussions such as the loss of employment.
- Children, elderly and the disabled stranded under temporary care or guardianship within the region and their caretakers
- Women and the elderly living by themselves that arrived in the region for other personal reasons
- Those that wish to relocate to another island based on their financial burdens, as a result of economic regressions caused by COVID-19.
- Those that have secured means of employment outside the region and wish to relocate.
- Those that are stranded for various other reasons.
In reference to the guidelines, the government will next give importance to individuals that arrived in the region from April 1 onwards, for the evacuation procedure.
Gender Ministry urged individuals within the third category, that are yet to register at their respective island councils and local government authorities, to hasten efforts and register at the ministry via its hotline 1412 or by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org. People may call the ministry from 10:00 hrs to 17:30 hrs and 20:00 hrs till 23:00 hrs.
The government-mandated 14-day quarantine period is applicable for all individuals travelling out of the region.
On April 15, Maldivian authorities placed the Greater Male' Region under lockdown for 24 hours after a Maldivian national living in the capital tested positive for COVID-19. Authorities have since extended the lockdown for an additional 24 hours to conduct contact tracing efforts, before extending the lockdown on April 17, for a period of 14 days ending April 30.
On April 29, HPA announced its decision to extend the regional lockdown for an additional 14 days, as a measure to contain the rapid outbreak of COVID-19 in Maldives. At present, the lockdown is set to expire on Thursday, May 14.
The country currently records 573 confirmed, 553 active cases of COVID-19 and a total of 20 recoveries.
The country recorded its first virus death, of an 83-year-old local female, on April 29. The second death involved the passing of a 33-year-old male Bangladeshi national, following a tonic-clonic seizure, that afterwards tested positive for COVID-19.
Following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15, Malé has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. The city is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The disease has also disproportionately affected the country's large expatriate population, the majority of whom are Bangladeshi nationals and live in highly congested quarters where it is impossible to reduce contact or exercise social distancing.
In addition to the capital, COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Uligan in Haa Alif Atoll, Narudhoo and Milandhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, and Thulusdhoo in Kaafu Atoll.
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 3.7 million people and claimed over 258,356 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.2 million people have recovered.