Maldives to suspend visa on arrival effective Friday

The Maldives will suspend visa on arrival from March 27 until further notice, the country's president announced on Wednesday.

During a press conference held at the President's Office, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said the step was taken as an added precaution to stop the spread of COVID-19. With the suspension of issuing on-arrival visas, those arriving from foreign countries will not be allowed to enter the country, said the president.

Although the borders are closed and the Maldives goes into a lockdown, the government is fully prepared for any situation that may arise in the future, assured the president.

Stressing that the government would not let any basic rights of any of the country's citizens go unfulfilled, the president promised that the country's citizens will not have to worry about electricity, water, food and the public transportation system, adding that staple food enough for several months will be provided via the state's trade company STO.

Although daily life of citizens is being interrupted, the government is acting on the advice of health care professionals in dealing with the outbreak to ensure the safety and protection of the country's citizens, said the president. All decisions on how to deal with the pandemic are being made by health experts, and the government is simply facilitating their recommendations, the president said.

During the press conference, President Solih also announced the decision to extend the closure of schools and government offices by an additional week.

13 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Maldives thus far. While the government previously revealed five people have recovered from the illness, the president during the press conference revealed that three additional people have recovered, bringing the total number of active cases to five.