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Pres hosts online cabinet meeting to discuss easing COVID-19 restrictions

Ahmed Aiham
22 May 2020, MVT 17:28
A screengrab of the first virtualc cabinet minister's meeting. PHOTO: PRESIDENT'S OFFICE
Ahmed Aiham
22 May 2020, MVT 17:28

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Thursday, hosted Maldives' first virtual cabinet meeting to discuss plans to ease the temporary restrictive measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a circular released by the President's Office, the cabinet discussed details of the government plan to ease COVID-19 restriction measures and the role of each sectoral ministry as the country transitions into a state of 'new normal'. Further discussions pertained to multi-agency plans to rebuild the country after the health crisis subsides.

Acknowledging the contribution of healthcare professionals, president and cabinet ministers noted that their advice "had helped avert a national healthcare disaster."

Similarly, the president highlighted the multi-agency efforts to contain the virus and expressed gratitude towards his cabinet members for their hard work.

In his address to the nation on Wednesday evening, President Solih revealed government’s plan to ease lockdown measures, after seeking technical advice of health professionals. Restrictions currently in place will be reversed in phases, and commence once the current lockdown ends on May 28, he said.

Outlining the plan, Solih stated that the first phase will involve easing lockdown restrictions in greater Malé region, and allow business to resume normal operations.

The first phase will be followed by easing restrictions on public gatherings such as prayer congregations, schools and food outlets.

President Solih also noted Maldives' intention to reopen its national airport, Velana International Airport in July, and plans to kickstart the economy by resuming tourism industry operations.

In addition, islands without any community transmissions of the virus will return to normalcy, with the reopening of schools and government offices.

On April 15, Maldivian authorities placed greater Male' region under lockdown for 24 hours after a Maldivian national living in the capital tested positive for COVID-19. Authorities have since continued to extend the lockdown, which is in effect until May 28, over a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since recording its first local transmission in Malé--one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Maldives currently records 1,216 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,108 active cases. The country has reported four fatalities and a total of 104 recoveries till date.

WHO has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 5.2 million people and claimed over 334,915 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 2 million people have recovered.

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