SriLankan Airlines extends passenger services suspension
SriLankan Airlines on Tuesday extended a suspension of all of its passenger operations, as the spread of the novel coronavirus hammers global travel demand.
The neighbouring Sri Lanka’s flagship carrier said the suspension, initially put in place from April 8-21, will continue until the end of the month.
But cargo and charter operations will continue, the airline said.
Sri Lanka, which has recorded over 200 coronavirus cases, has banned all incoming flights to combat the virus.
The country has also imposed a curfew in certain areas in a bid to control the spread.
SriLankan Airlines operates four daily flights from Bandaranaike International Airport to the Maldives main Velana International Airport, and six flights per week to Gan International Airport in the southernmost Maldives atoll of Addu.
The flagship carrier of neighbouring Sri Lanka is popular amongst tourists travelling to the Maldives from Europe.
Maldives has also taken a series of drastic preventive measures aimed at containing the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Maldives has enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Even before the visa suspension, the Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from some of the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea were also banned from entering the country.
All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran were also cancelled.
Cruise ships and foreign yachts were also banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.
On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.
Nineteen more cases were later identified. All the patients except one were foreigners working or staying at resorts and Maldivians that had returned from abroad.
Sixteen out of the 21 have made full recoveries. Three Maldivian patients are being treated at designated isolation facilities, whilst another two had been repatriated to their home country of Italy.
The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.
The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including a partial curfew in capital Male and its suburbs, and a nationwide closing of schools, colleges and universities. Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks have also been shut.
Restaurants and cafes in the capital have been asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.
A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands is also in effect.