200 Bangladeshi workers evacuated from Maldives

Bangladeshi workers form a queue to board a repatriation flight to Bangladesh on June 2, 2020. (Photo/Maldivian)

The Maldives, on Monday, evacuated 200 more Bangladeshi workers back to their home country.

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

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 were undocumented.

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.

Maldives identified its first coronavirus case on March 7, and declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic four days later on March 11.

While coronavirus cases had initially been restricted to resorts and safaris, and later quarantine facilities holding inbound travelers, Male’ City identified its first coronavirus case on April 15, prompting a city-wide lockdown and a nationwide ban on nonessential travel.

The populous Male’ City has since become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, contributing to over 90 percent of the total cases.

The vulnerability of migrant workers is evident from records of coronavirus cases released by the health authorities. Maldives has recorded 1,829 coronavirus cases, 32 percent of whom are Maldivians, while the remaining 68 percent are foreign nationals. 1,003 people – making for 54 percent of total coronavirus cases – are Bangladeshis.

And while Maldives has confirmed seven coronavirus related deaths, three of the seven who died are Bangladeshis.

The Director General of Public Health has ordered migrant workers in Male’ City who are vulnerable to getting infected with the disease be moved to quarantine facilities. Hundreds have been moved to quarantine facilities in Hulhumale’ and Gulhifalhu.

The government has announced that some 5,000 undocumented workers will be repatriated in the coming three months.