Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid, on Tuesday, held a telephone conversation with Sri Lankan counterpart Minister of Foreign Affairs Dinesh Gunawardena, in which the latter agreed to provide medical personnel as assistance, should the need arise, in combatting the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Noting the escalating situation of the pandemic, Minister Shahid commended the Sri Lankan government in their efforts to deter the spread of COVID-19.
The two top diplomats also agreed to ease movements for citizens of their respective countries under the agreement on visa facilitation signed between the two governments, to the extent possible, given the situation.
Considered as a second home for many Maldivians, Minister Shahid stated that all diplomatic connections will be utilized to help Maldivian citizens located outside the country at the time when travel-bans were enforced and airports were closed, effectively grounding them on foreign soil.
Shahid declared that the Maldivians were “most definitely, not alone”.
Minister Shahid affirmed to The Edition that the state was currently working with diplomatic missions based in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal to return Maldivians to the country, as well as provide them with necessities and arrangements during the period in-between.
Minister Shahid also noted that, while individual extractions posed a particular difficulty, the government would account for their wellbeing stating that, “President Solih’s government is prepared to protect every Maldivian citizen.”
“The state will implement its maximum effort to provide whatever assistance possible”, said Shahid, in a conversation with The Edition, “however, we must all understand that borders are being closed, flights are being cancelled – these are extraordinary times that we find ourselves in”.
Maldives now has 13 confirmed and eight active cases of COVID-19, with five recoveries. So far, only tourists and resort employees have confirmed infections in Maldives with no record of local transmissions within the country. The first Maldivian tested positive for the virus in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 423,600 and claimed over 18,900 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 109,100 have recovered.
Great discussion with FM @DCRGunawardena on tackling & mitigating the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in our two countries. Grateful to the Sri Lankan Govt. for the kind hospitality & assistance to the Maldivian community in Sri Lanka – a second home for thousands of Maldivians. pic.twitter.com/B8sPPhm6oe
— Abdulla Shahid (@abdulla_shahid) March 24, 2020