The government has announced its decision to cancel all inbound direct flights from China as a precautionary measure against the spread of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The announcement was made at a joint press briefing held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism at the President’s Office this afternoon.

In addition to the cancellation of inbound direct flights from China, Abdulla Shahid, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that the Ministry would soon issue a travel advisory against all non-essential travel to China and other destinations where cases of the coronavirus had been detected. He further announced the Administration’s decision to recite Qunut Nazilah after each Maghreb prayer starting today.

Briefing the media on the latest update regarding Maldivian citizens residing in China, Abdulla Shahid stated that 69 Maldivians had registered so far with the Embassy, out of which only nine are living in Wuhan—the epicentre of the coronavirus. He said, following instructions by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to arrange free travel arrangements via Island Aviation Services Limited for those residing in some five destinations in China, the Ministry is working with neighbouring states to transfer seven Maldivians in Wuhan who wished to return home.

Ali Waheed, the Minister of Tourism reemphasised that the Administration’s top priority was ensuring the safety and security of its citizens, in addition to those travelling to the Maldives. He assured that every necessary precaution was in place against the spread of the coronavirus. Highlighting that all measures were reached upon consultation with tourism sector stakeholders, the Tourism Minister cleared the media’s queries about the precautionary measures being followed in all tourism establishments.

Ali Waheed further said the Ministry was working with relevant authorities to ensure a smooth return for all outbound Chinese tourists and assured the Administration’s stand on ensuring the safety and security of all tourists.

Abdulla Ameen, the Minister of Health, gave further detail on the precautionary measures put in place at all entry points, and emphasised that every necessary action was being taken against the coronavirus, and that the country has face masks and other essential medical equipment required by medical professionals.

The Health Minister went on to note that all healthcare facilities across the country had been brought up to speed about the precautionary measures and that all frontline medical professionals had been instructed to follow the standard operating procedures enacted in the event an individual is suspected of having or is pronounced positive for the virus.

Concluding the briefing, the Foreign Minister expressed his gratitude to the media for their support in keeping the public informed on the matter and urged them to disseminate the facts in a responsible manner.