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Saudi King postpones state visit to Maldives over H1N1 outbreak

President Yameen pictured with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during Yameen's 2016 state visit to the Kingdom. Image source: President's Office. Photograph: (Others)

WION Mal?, Male, Maldives Mar 17, 2017, 10.39 AM (IST) Umaima Rasheed Hussain

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has cancelled his state visit to the Maldives over the H1N1 outbreak in the island nation. 

The government of Maldives announced the postponement of the Saudi king's visit in an emergency press conference held at the President's Office on Friday morning.

During the press conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohamed Asim, said that when the fresh dates are confirmed for the king's visit, it will be announced. 

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz was scheduled to visit Maldives tomorrow as a last destination of his month-long Asia tour. 

The monarch has already been to Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, and he is now in China. He was supposed to arrive in Maldives on Saturday, and was scheduled to spend a week in the Indian Ocean archipelago, out of which six days were planned as a holiday.

Maldives government had been preparing for the monarch's visit; Rehearsing for a red carpet welcome and conducting security drills. 

Meanwhile, H1N1 influenza outbreak in the island nation has been spreading. More than 100 people have tested positive for H1N1 so far. Two people have died of the flu: A man in his twenties died early in March, while a 51-year-old woman died late Wednesday.

In the attempt to control the outbreak, schools, colleges, and universities have been shut for the time being, and the general public have been advised not to travel unless it's deemed absolutely necessary. 

As pregnant women are one of the groups vulnerable to the outbreak, the government has temporarily relieved pregnant civil servants of duty as a precaution. Several independent authorities have relieved pregnant staff as well. 


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