Travelers from India now required to present PCR negative tests

Tourists at the Velana International Airport. (Sun Photo/Ibrahim Ifaz)

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) of the Maldives has issued new policies for travelers from India so that they are now required to present a negative PCR test even if they have completed both doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. 

April 20, saw authorities in the Maldives introduce significant easements to the travel policies regarding COVID-19, including allowing travel without any negative PCR test results if the travelers have completed both doses of the vaccine. 

However, due to the worsening situation in neighboring India, where hospitals are running out of oxygen supply and deaths have been reported due to the overfilling of hospitals, Maldivian authorities introduced significant measures to reduce the risk of the situation from reaching the Maldives. 

A signed directive by the Director-General of Public Health Maimoona Aboobakuru issued today read that travelers from India are required to present a 96-hour negative PCR test even if they have completed both doses of the vaccine. The measures affect travelers from India, those who have visited India, or are arriving in the Maldives after a 24-hour or more transit in India. 

Work permit holders returning to the Maldives from India are required to do the tests within 24 hours of arrival and quarantine for a period of 10 days. Children below the age of one year are exempt from the quarantine. Those quarantined will only be released after a PCR test conducted following the completion of the quarantine period. 

Those traveling from India to the Maldives and departing from the Maldives are also required to do a departure PCR test as well. 

The Maldives also banned Indian tourists from visiting local guesthouses and hotels in inhabited islands of the nation. Those who are already in such establishments are exempt from these measures until the end of their booking dates. 

India has seen a massive surge in cases, possibly fueled by the discovery of new variants including double mutations of the virus. India is the biggest tourist market to the Maldives in 2021 so far. Other than the Maldives, countries such as the UK, Canada, and the UAE have all introduced preventive measures and advisories against travel to and from India as the nation combats one of the worst situations with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.