COVID-19: Non-essential travel from capital restricted

Authorities have imposed movement restrictions on capital Male’, banning exit from the island. The decision was made following a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases detected in Male’.

Populous Male’ city is the epicentre of the COVIID-19 outbreak in the Maldives. The Health Emergency Operations Centre, HEOC during a press conference held Tuesday said only those who need to travel from Male’ for essential needs will be allowed to leave the capital. The measure was taken to decrease the spread of COVID-19 to the atolls.

Authorities previously relaxed restrictions to allow those providing essential services and working on projects to travel to islands from Male’ for a five-day duration. However, the decision has now been revoked, said the centre.

Spokesperson of HEOC, Dr. Nazla Rafeeq said entry to Male’ will only be permitted for those traveling to the capital for healthcare. Crewmen of boats traveling to Male’ will not be allowed to disembark, said Nazla.

“We have to think of the [available] capacity and make sure the numbers decrease enough [so that everyone can be accomodated]. In this situation, we have to protect those in the high-risk category, and we have to work to decrease the speed at which the contagion is spreading. We have to work to protect our islands from this illness,” said Dr. Nazla.

Those travelling from one island to the other will need to wear masks while traveling, HEOC has decided as an added measure. The centre has encouraged to use masks in islands as well.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Maldives has been increasing drastically over the past few days. The number of positive cases is now at 4,293. While 19 deaths have been recorded to date, 1,490 cases are currently active.