Inbound direct flights from China suspended indefinitely

The government has announced that all inbound direct flights from China have been indefinitely suspended amid fears about the deadly coronavirus that originated from China, infecting over 7700 people.

During a press conference held jointly by the Foreign Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Tourism Ministry on Thursday, Foreign MInister Abdulla Shahid announced the suspension of China flights.

Shahid on behalf of the government urged all citizens not to travel abroad unless absolutely necessary.

Tourism Minister Ali Waheed said the decision to suspend flights was made after extensive discussion with tourism stakeholders.

"This precaution is being taken for the safety of the Maldivian citizens as well as all tourists who visit Maldives," said Ali Waheed.

The minister added that the condition of Chinese tourists who are currently in the Maldives are being closely monitored by the relevant entities.

Speaking at the press conference, Health Minister Abdulla Ameen said steps are in place to screen all arrivals in the Maldives. All travelers suspected of having been infected by the coronavirus are assessed further, however, no confirmed cases have been found thus far, reiterated the minister.

"The symptoms of this virus is similar to that of a common cold. We are not treating every single traveler who has a warm temperature as a suspected case of coronavirus. There are international standards in place to detect such cases. We are following the international protocols in screening people for this virus," said Ameen.

The Health Minister added that the country has a sufficient stock of masks and other safety equipment. The State Trading Organization (STO) has assured of sufficient stocks, said the minister.

While the coronavirus has been found in all areas of China, over 170 people have died from the disease thus far. Confirmed cases of the virus has been recorded in 16 countries, including neighbouring India and Sri Lanka and over 7711 people have tested positive for the virus until now.