Maldives repatriates locals stranded in Sri Lanka

A total of 103 Maldivians repatriated from three countries arrived in the Maldives early Sunday via Sri Lankan Airlines, The Edition reported.

The Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the repatriated locals were 48 Maldivians from Belarus, 23 from the United Kingdom, and 32 from Sri Lanka, who were stranded in the respective countries amid the global travel restrictions and closing of borders due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the current procedures applicable to those returning from abroad, they are presently being transferred to quarantine facilities from Velana International Airport, where they will remain for the standard 14-day quarantine period. They will only be allowed to travel elsewhere after undergoing testing for COVID-19.

The foreign ministry noted that the repatriated locals are those who requested to return from Belarus and the UK, and those receiving state financial assistance in Sri Lanka.

“Only those receiving state assistance could be repatriated from Sri Lanka due to limited seats”, said the ministry.

“We are working on arranging [more repatriation] flights to Colombo in the near future”.

The foreign ministry in collaboration with the Maldivian Embassy in Germany and the Maldivian High Commission in the UK, worked with Sri Lankan Airlines and UK authorities to arrange the repatriation effort.

The ministry stated that fares for the flight were borne by the returning Maldivians.

The move to repatriate Maldivians from Belarus comes amidst concerns raised by the students to the Maldivian Government about their own safety, as Belarus remains one of the only European nations that is yet to implement strict containment measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to this, repatriation efforts were carried out to bring back Maldivians stranded in Nepal, Bangladesh, Russia, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the UK and Thailand as well.

Maldives presently records 1,672 confirmed and 1,259 active cases of COVID-19, with five fatalities and 406 recoveries.

WHO has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 6.1 million people and claimed over 371,000 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 2.7 million people have recovered. (Colombo Gazette)

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