Maldives repatriates 195 Bangladeshi workers amid virus outbreak

Bangladeshi workers check-in to their repatriation flight to Bangladesh on May 30, 2020. (Photo/Maldivian)

The Maldives, on Saturday, evacuated 195 more Bangladeshi workers back to their home country.

The workers were repatriated on board a chartered flight operated by the Maldivian Airlines on Saturday morning. It marks the Maldives flag carrier’s seventh repatriation flight to the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

It follows its sixth repatriation flight which carried 198 Bangladeshi workers to Dhaka on Friday.

Maldives as repatriated more than 1,000 Bangladeshi workers onboard chartered flights operated by the Maldivian Airlines, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, and the Bangladeshi Air Force since April 21.

Most of the workers are undocumented.

At a National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) press briefing last week, spokesperson Mabrouq Azeez announced Maldives will be repatriating some 5,000 undocumented workers back to their home countries over the next three months.

Maldives has a population of close to 150,000 migrant workers, some 63,000 of whom are undocumented.

Most of the migrant workers in Maldives are Bangladeshis, and live in congested labor quarters which make them particular vulnerable to infectious diseases such as the new coronavirus.

The vulnerability of migrant workers is evident from records of coronavirus cases released by the health authorities. Maldives has recorded 1,591 coronavirus cases, 34 percent of whom are Maldivians, while the remaining 66 percent are foreign nationals. 835 people – making for 52 percent of total coronavirus cases – are Bangladeshis.

Two of the five coronavirus fatalities in Maldives are Bangladeshis.

The Director General of Public Health has ordered migrant workers in Male’ City who are vulnerable to getting infected with the disease to be moved to quarantine facilities. Hundreds have been moved to quarantine facilities in Hulhumale’ and Gulhifalhu, and the government is working on building additional quarantine facilities to house more migrant workers.

Health authorities confirmed 78 new coronavirus cases on Friday; 50 Bangladeshis, 25 Maldivians and three Indians. The spike in new cases comes less than a day after the country began easing restrictions in a bid to promote economic activity.