Maldives bans South Asia travellers as COVID-19 cases soar

Maldives bans South Asia travellers as #COVID19 cases soar

12/5/2021 5:36:00 PM

Maldives bans South Asia travellers as COVID19 cases soar

MALE: The Maldives on Wednesday (May 12) banned travellers from across South Asia in a bid to contain surging COVID-19 infections despite having ...

AsiaA medical worker wearing full protective gear takes a COVID-19 swab sample from a man in Male on Jun 5, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Ahmed Shurau)12 May 2021 10:31PMShare this contentBookmarkMALE: The Maldives on Wednesday (May 12) banned travellers from across South Asia in a bid to contain surging COVID-19 infections despite having one of the world's most successful vaccination roll-outs.

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Sri Lanka and other countries in the region have also imposed travel restrictions as they battle a new wave of the coronavirus that has hit India and its neighbours.AdvertisementAdvertisementThe Maldives, whose economy relies on tourists visiting its pristine atolls, has suffered a more than 15-fold increase in daily infections in the past week.

The Indian Ocean nation, which halted international flights for more than three months last year, saw a record single-day rise of 1,500 cases on Tuesday - compared with less than 100 just one month ago.Authorities said tourist arrivals from the key Indian market and other South Asian countries would stop from Thursday. They have already banned the entry of foreign labourers from around South Asia except health workers.

AdvertisementAdvertisement"These restrictions apply to travellers originating from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka," Maldives Immigration said in a statement.Anyone who has only transited through South Asia would also be included, it added.

Indians have been the largest single group of visitors to the Maldives this year. Bollywood stars such as Alia Bhatt and her partner Ranbir Kapoor are among celebrities to have been pictured using the country as an escape from the pandemic.Travellers from other countries are still permitted to travel to the Maldives with a negative coronavirus test but are not allowed to have contact with the local population.

AdvertisementA curfew from 9pm to 4am has been extended to start at 4pm as part of measures to counter the virus.Neighbouring Sri Lanka has also announced a night curfew until the end of the month and ordered a three-day shutdown from Friday as part of its anti-coronavirus campaign.

READ: India's COVID-19 death toll soars past 250,000People have been banned from travelling outside of their home provinces after medical experts warned Sri Lanka's healthcare system could collapse unless immediate lockdown measures were implemented.

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About 60 per cent of the Maldives' resident population of 515,000 has received a shot - one of the world's highest figures - but less than a quarter have had two injections, a top UN official said.But the UN Resident Coordinator in the Maldives, Catherine Haswell, told AFP that more than half the population aged between 18 and 29 were yet to receive a first jab.

Read more: CNA »

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