Maldives bans travellers from China over virus fears

Reuters
Male, Maldives Published: Feb 04, 2020, 02:09 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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More than 280,000 Chinese tourists visited the luxury holiday destination in 2019, government data show, the largest number from any country.

The Maldives has banned travellers arriving from China as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of coronavirus, the tourism minister of the Indian Ocean islands said on Monday.

Also read: India rescues seven Maldivians from Wuhan under neighbourhood first policy

More than 280,000 Chinese tourists visited the luxury holiday destination in 2019, government data show, the largest number from any country.

"Under the new measures being implemented, the government of Maldives will restrict entry ... of any person who has left or transited through mainland China effective from 3 February," Tourism Minister Ali Waheed told a news conference.

"Exceptions will be made in the case of Maldivian citizens."

The flu-like virus has caused more than 425 deaths in China since emerging late last year in the central city of Wuhan, where it is believed to have originated in a market illegally trading in wildlife.

Seven Maldivians were evacuated from Wuhan on Sunday by close ally India, and are being held in quarantine along with Indian nationals, Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said.

Direct flights between mainland China and the Maldives have been suspended, and there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in the archipelago.

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