Maldives to charge 312 lockdown violators

Police in Maldives have sought charges against 312 people for violating a lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The lockdown and stay-at-home orders in the capital region were ordered on April 15.

The lockdown banned all public activity and travel in Male and its suburbs of Hulhumale and Villimale. Any movement in and out Male and its suburbs, as well as the neighbouring industrial islands of Thilafushi and Gulhifalhu were also banned.

The restrictions are now being eased in phases, with the second phase beginning June 15 and lasting at least until the month-end.

A police spokesperson said 37 out of the 582 arrested from April 15 to June 15 for violating the lockdown orders remain in custody. Cases of 312 people have been forwarded to the prosecutor general’s office, he added.

According to the police, more than 9,000 people were also fined.

First time violators of the lockdown rules were let go after a warning, but a second violation entailed a fine of MVR 1,000 ($64.74). Third time offenders were arrested on the spot.

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 2,150.

Eight deaths have been reported and 1,769 have made full recoveries.

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 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 were also shut.

Restaurants and cafes in the capital were 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 was also ordered.

These measures allowed authorities to contain the outbreak.

More than half of the people who contracted the virus have recovered and daily recoveries have over taken the number of new infections detected per day.

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