Maldives: Workers from South Asian countries left stranded in deserted tourist city as COVID-19 concerns grow

Author: Gulf News, Published on: 25 May 2020

"Coronavirus traps poor workers from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in deserted Maldives", 26 May 2020

Tens of thousands of impoverished foreign labourers have been left stranded and ostracised in one of the world's most densely packed cities as the tourist paradise of the Maldives battles coronavirus.

The turquoise waters and pristine beaches that draw honeymoon couples from around the world have been empty for weeks since a government order to close all resorts. That has left an army of migrant workers jobless...

About half of the 150,000 people in the two square kilometres that make up the capital, Male, are workers from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka living in teeming alleys that are a haven for the virus.

...Some experts have warned the Maldives risks thousands more cases unless action is taken. Authorities say the infection spreads three times faster in migrant communities than in the local population.

Four coronavirus deaths have been reported so far, including one Bangladeshi, but rumours that hundreds of foreigners have the virus have compounded concerns among migrants.

 ...Many are also worried about their families back in Bangladesh, also in the grip of a pandemic lockdown amid rising deaths.

...Roughly a thousand Bangladeshis staying illegally in the Maldives have been repatriated, minister for foreign affairs Abdullah Shahid said on Sunday. India has taken back 4,000 people who lost their jobs. 

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