As of Oct. 20, authorities in the Maldives have modified some measures introduced to control the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The nightly ban on vehicular movement in the Greater Male Region - comprising the capital, Male, as well as in the nearby islands of Gulhifalhu, Hulhumale, Thilafushi, and Villimale - is no longer in force. Officials have also shortened the nightly curfew in the Greater Male region to 2300-0400. Businesses in the area may operate 0600-2230, while schools are partially open. Approved guesthouses reopened Oct. 15 for tourists; departure testing is necessary for travelers staying in inhabited islands. A nationwide state of public health emergency is in place until further notice.
Other nationwide measures are in place. Public gatherings of more than five people are banned, and all residents must wear facemasks. Officials are permitting interisland ferry travel for medical emergencies and other urgent needs only. Authorities continue to encourage nonessential public and private entities to allow employees to telecommute to the extent possible. Establishments are required to ensure sanitation and social distancing. Violators of quarantine or isolation rules will face fines of up to 5,000 Rufiyaa (325 USD). Officials may amend measures at short notice, depending on COVID-19 cases.
Maldives may exempt asymptomatic entrants with proof of recovery from COVID-19 within 90 days before entry from testing and quarantine, upon prior application and review. All other tourists and short-term visitors arriving in the country must present a negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival; the test must be no more than 96 hours before arrival in the Maldives. Inbound foreign travelers must reserve accommodations at either one or a maximum of two different approved resorts, where they are to spend their entire time in the Maldives, except when visiting dining facilities and recreation venues approved by the Ministry of Tourism. While there is no mandatory quarantine for asymptomatic travelers, all persons entering the country must submit an online health declaration via the "Imuga" portal within 24 hours before travel. Officials may modify regulations based on a passenger's nationality and travel history, and authorities could suspend international travel at short notice. Resorts and approved guesthouses are open; however, officials may enforce temporary movement restrictions at such sites in the event of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. Authorities have advised Maldivian citizens to refrain from all nonessential international travel. Citizens and long-term residents are required to undergo 14-day home quarantines upon arrival.
Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, and travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.