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COVID-19 sampling station opens in Hulhumale for liveaboard passengers

Mariyam Malsa
12 August 2020, MVT 13:31
Health care worker collecting a sample from a tourist at the sampling station. PHOTO: NBAM
Mariyam Malsa
12 August 2020, MVT 13:31

The National Boating Association of Maldives (NBAM), on Tuesday, announced the establishment of a PCR Sampling Station in the reclaimed suburb of Hulhumale' to test passengers departing from liveaboards for COVID-19.

Following a recommendation submitted by NBAM to the Ministry of Tourism and Housing Development Corporation (HDC), the sampling station was set up in the jetty area of Hulhumale' as a collective effort joined by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Maldives Police Service as well.

While overall efforts to establish the facility was completed within a five-day period, the first sample was collected on August 10.

NBAM urged liveaboard operators to schedule sample collection in advance to ensure that the station has a sufficient time period to confirm test results before tourists depart. In order to pre-book testing, passenger details must be sent to info@boating.mv or +960 7970033.

In a circular issued on August 10, the tourism ministry instructed vessels currently operating or cruising across Maldives to coordinate with focal points such as regional hospitals to arrange sample collection and testing for passengers. Safari vessels are required to maintain a stock of test kits and finalise sample transportation arrangements through atoll collection points or other means of transport.

The tourism ministry also urged all testing facilities to ensure that tourists, who require a negative PCR test result to board departure flights, are transferred to the airport only after results are handed over. All such facilities are instructed to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Following nearly four months of lockdown, Maldives reopened its borders to international passengers on July 15.

At present, tourists are permitted to enter the country without conducting tests or observing mandatory quarantine, provided that they remain at the facility where initial bookings were made. Therefore, tourists are not permitted to move between islands or liveaboards within the duration of their stay.

All holidaymakers arriving in Maldives are required to observe social distancing measures and wear facemasks as per guidelines issued by HPA. While passengers are required to undergo thermal screening at the airport, individuals with high temperatures, breathing difficulties or other symptoms will be referred to the airport clinic.

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