Maldives extends negative Covid test validity to 96 hours for travellers
Health authorities in Maldives have extended the validity of negative coronavirus test certificates that travellers have to provide before their entry to the island nation.
Travellers can now provide results of PCR tests taken within 96 hours before their arrival.
“We are happy to announce that #Maldives Health Protection Agency has extended negative #PCRtest validity time of within 72Hrs to within 96Hrs prior to tourists departure to #Maldives,” the country’s tourism ministry announced on Twitter Tuesday.
“Another reason to #VisitMaldivesNow.”
Who has to provide the certificate?
The negative PCR test requirement applies to all tourists, as well as to visitors travelling on short-term visas and for official purposes, and those not subjected to mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Travellers that fall under these categories are exempt from the pre-arrival PCR test requirements:
- Maldivian citizens
- Holders of valid employment approval or work visa
- Holders of any other resident permit of Maldives
- Flight crew arriving on general declaration
- Infants, aged less than one year
The certificate of negative PCR test result for Covid-19 should be issued not more than 96 hours prior to departure, counting from the first port of embarkation en route to the Maldives.
The PCR certificate should bear the name and address of the laboratory that preformed the testing, result of the test, date of testing as well as name and signature of the issuing officer.
But bear in mind that providing a negative PCR test result does not preclude airport authorities subjecting passengers to screening or any other surveillance measures.
Maldives is open to all
The Maldives reopened its borders on July 15.
With the border reopening, 30-day free on-arrival visa is issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country.
There is no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival, but tourists have to complete an online health declaration form and provide a negative PCR test result taken at least 96 hours prior to their departure.
Visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms are also tested at their own expense.
The coronavirus outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.
Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.
However, only 382,760 tourists visited the Maldives before the country closed its borders on March 27. It was a 40.8 per cent decline over the 646,092 that visited the Maldives from January to March last year.
Meanwhile, the government’s best case scenario now puts total tourist arrivals for 2020 just above 800,000.
Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.
However, the government is at present projecting a possible 13 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $778 million hit.
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 10,998.
Thirty-five deaths have been reported, while 9,833 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.