Maldives says preventive measures in place for new China virus

Authorities in Maldives on Wednesday announced preventive measures, including screening of inbound travellers, against a new virus that originated in China, the biggest source market for Maldives tourism.

The new virus had killed nine people, with confirmed cases now at 440. It has now spread from Wuhan to several Chinese provinces as well as the US, Thailand and South Korea.

China had earlier confirmed that human-to-human transmission of the virus had taken place.

In a statement, the Maldives tourism ministry stressed that a coordinated multi-agency effort is underway to ensure the health and well-being of locals and tourists. All preventive measures have been taken, with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) screening passengers at the main Velana International Airport (VIA), it added.

“We would like to further assure all travellers that these measures are precautionary and no cases have been identified,” the statement read.

“The highest priority of the government of Maldives is given to ensure that all visitors are safe and protected, and all possible measures necessary are implemented.”

The new virus, known also as 2019-nCoV, is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

The situation has been exacerbated by the millions of people across China who are travelling within the country and abroad for the Lunar New Year week-long holiday.

Resorts in Maldives organise special festivities for the thousands of Chinese travellers that choose the island nation to celebrate the Lunar New Year every year.

China is the top contributor to Maldives tourism, with arrival numbers recording year-over-year growth of 0.3 per cent to reach 284,372 in 2019.

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