Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that 234 Maldivians stranded in India will be repatriated on Monday afternoon.
The locals will be brought back from 16 cities in India including Punjab, Delhi, Vellore, Trivandrum, Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Pune, Goa, Jamnagar, Ezhimala, Wellington and Pachmarhi.
Two chartered flights from national airline Maldivian, an airbus aircraft and a dash aircraft will travel to New Delhi and Trivandrum to evacuate those stranded.
The airbus will take the route Male'-New Delhi-Trivandrum-Male', and will land at Velana International Airport (VIA) at 1400 hours. Meanwhile, the dash aircraft will fly directly to Trivandrum and return back to VIA at 1310 hours.
Since the flight will only land in these two cities, the Maldivian High Commission in Delhi and Maldivian Consulate in Trivandrum are assisting in transporting locals from the seven remaining cities.
As per the current procedures applicable to those returning from abroad, all 234 individuals will be taken from VIA to quarantine facilities. They will remain in facilities for the standard 14 day period and will only be allowed to travel elsewhere after undergoing testing for COVID-19.
As per the Foreign Ministry, Maldivians repatriated in these flights will include those who travelled for medical purposes and had their flights cancelled, are no longer receiving adequate treatment for long-term illnesses, individuals residing in India on short-term visas and individuals residing in remote areas where repatriation proves challenging.
The minister assured that they are working to arrange more flights in the future to bring back locals stranded in various countries.
Prior to this, repatriation efforts were carried out to bring back Maldivians stranded in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the United Kingdom as well.
India currently records a total of 62,939 COVID-19 cases, of which 19,358 have recovered. The neighbouring country, that has now confirmed 2,109 virus deaths, has been under a nation-wide lockdown since March 21.
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 4.1 million people and claimed over 281,921 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.4 million people have recovered.