Maldives, China discuss coordination mechanism to curb pandemic

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid (R) with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Lizhong (L). (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and the Chinese Ambassador Zhang Lizhong, on Saturday, discussed setting up a bilateral coordination mechanism to prevent and curb the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Shahid and Zhang sat down for a virtual meeting on Saturday evening.

Shahid, in a tweet he wrote following the meeting, said the two leaders had extensive discussions in which they covered a broad range of issues of mutual interest.

It included setting up a bilateral coordination mechanism for pandemic prevention and control, facilitation of people to people exchanges, and the progress of Chinese projects in Maldives, along with plans for future projects.

Shahid said that Zhang provided assurance of China’s interest in working with the Maldives to support the country’s recovery from the pandemic.

Screen grab from virtual meeting between Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Chinese Ambassador Zhang Lizhong on May 23, 2020. (Photo/Foreign Ministry)

The Chinese government, Chinese companies, and individual well-wishers have made numerous donations to Maldives to assist in its battle against the pandemic.

It includes the 800-bed labor quarter constructed by the Chinese government in Hulhumale’ Phase II to quarantine vulnerable migrant workers, the donation of material to build 10 mobile homes, and the assistance of Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) in renovating buildings to be repurposed as quarantine facilities.

China also delivered large shipment of medical equipment to Maldives in early May, which included 10 ventilators along with other essential medical supplies. The donations were from the Chinese Foreign Ministry as well as Chinese companies and well-wishers, which include Alibaba Foundation/ Jack Ma Foundation, China Merchants Port Group Co. Ltd, China Machinery Engineering Corporation, Beijing Urban Construction Investment & Development Co. Ltd, Dongfang Electric International Corporation, China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, China Communications 2nd Navigational Bureau 2nd Engineering Co. Ltd and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

Maldives identified its first virus case, in Kuredu resort, on March 7, and has been in a state of public health emergency since March 12.

While virus cases had initially been restricted to resorts and safaris, and later inbound travelers in quarantine facilities, the populous Maldivian capital identified its first virus case on April 15 – prompting a lockdown on the Greater Male’ Region.

Male’ quickly became the epicenter of coronavirus outbreak in Maldives, contributing to over 1,200 of the total virus cases.

Maldives has confirmed 1,313 cases of the new coronavirus. 127 have since recovered and four have died from complications.