Japan grants another $5.6 mln to strengthen Maldives health system

Japan has granted another 600,000,000 Japanese yen ($5.6 million) to the Maldives to promote economic and social development in the country.

Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid and Japanese ambassador in Maldives Keiko Yanai signed the grant agreement at a function held at the foreign ministry in capital Male Sunday.

“Minister Shahid expressed sincere appreciation to the government and the people of Japan, for the timely and important grant aid as Maldives continues to fight back the community outbreak of Covid-19,” the foreign minister said, in a statement.

The funds will be used to buy medical equipment, including 10 bedside x-ray machines, 65 bedside monitors, 19 portable ultrasound image diag systems, 200 automated external defibrillators and 160 syringe pumps.

The equipment will be installed at health centres in the islands.

In May, Japan provided separate grants of $356,400 and $185,000 through UNICEF Maldives and Maldivian Red Crescent respectively to support the Maldives efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Another grant of $1.4 million was provided through UNDP Maldives to support small and medium enterprises in agri-businesses impacted by the pandemic.

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.

Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.

A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 1,903.

Eight deaths have been reported and 827 have made full recoveries. Five remain in intensive care.

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 stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, 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.

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