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CDC issues Level 3 Warning regarding travel to Maldives

Shahudha Mohamed
24 August 2020, MVT 21:18
Tourists arriving in Maldives following the reopening of borders. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Warning regarding travel to Maldives, declaring it a "high-risk" country for COVID-19. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
24 August 2020, MVT 21:18

The United States' health protection agency Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Monday, issued a Level 3 Warning regarding travel to Maldives.

Declaring that the "COVID-19 risk in Maldives is high", CDC recommended passengers to avoid all nonessential international travel to the island nation.

"Older adults, people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions, and others at increased risk for severe illness should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Maldives", CDC added.

After recording significantly low numbers in the months of May and June, the island nation recorded an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases per capita in late July and August, indicating an alarming community spread in the country.

With the increasing number of infections, the number of recoveries has also risen in the past couple of weeks, after the recent spike reduced the total amount of recovered patients from the peak 86 to the lowest 53 percent. This value currently stands at 62 percent.

The number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed after the state initiated efforts to steer the country towards a 'new normal' with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions across the Greater Male' Region.

Maldives currently records total 6,779 confirmed and 2,530 active COVID-19 cases, along with 4,222 recoveries and 27 deaths.

In an attempt to kickstart the country's tourism industry amidst the economic repercussions caused by the pandemic, Maldives reopened its borders on July 15, almost four months after closing its air and sea borders to tourist arrivals on March 27

Only 5,177 tourists arrived in Maldives between July 15 and August 15. To illustrate the magnitude of the difference between pre-COVID statistics and current figures, tourist arrivals for June 2020 represent 1.3 percent of the arrivals in 2019.

Holidaymakers arriving in Maldives are required to observe social distancing measures and wear facemasks in accordance with the Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s regulations. While all passengers will undergo thermal screening, individuals with high temperatures, breathing difficulties or other symptoms will be referred to the airport clinic.

The restrictions on international travel left Maldives' heavily tourism reliant economy in an extremely vulnerable state. In mid-April, the World Bank projected that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.

Maldives estimates a shortfall of approximately USD 450 million (MVR 6.9 billion) in foreign currency and a state deficit of MVR 13 billion in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the tourism industry.

In addition to Maldives, CDC has also issued Level 3 Warnings on all other countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, France were also declared high-risk countries by the CDC.

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