The national carrier, Maldivian, on Monday evacuated 235 Maldivians stranded in India due to the nationwide lockdown imposed across the country over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldivian operated two chartered flights to repatriate Maldivians stranded in multiple cities of India.
The first flight carried 50 passengers from Trivandrum to Velana International Airport (VIA) on Monday afternoon. The second flight touched down in both Trivandrum and New Delhi, evacuating the remaining 185 individuals.
As per the current procedures applicable to those returning from abroad, all 235 locals were immediately transferred to quarantine facilities from VIA, where they will remain for the standard 14-day period. They will only be allowed to travel elsewhere after undergoing testing for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry is working to arrange additional repatriation flights to bring back more Maldivians stuck abroad amid global travel restrictions and closed borders. This includes Maldivian students in Belarus, who have been raising concerns to the Maldivian government about their own safety as the country remains one of the only European nations that has still not implemented strict containment measures against the pandemic.
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.
Presently, Maldives records total 897 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 863 active cases, three fatalities and a total of 31 recoveries.
On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 4.25 million people and claimed over 287,000 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.52 million people have recovered.