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World News

Maldives bans travellers from China over virus fears, minister says

MALE (Reuters) - The Maldives has banned travellers arriving from China as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of coronavirus, the tourism minister of the Indian Ocean islands said on Monday.

More than 280,000 Chinese tourists visited the luxury holiday destination in 2019, government data show, the largest number from any country.

“Under the new measures being implemented, the government of Maldives will restrict entry ... of any person who has left or transited through mainland China effective from 3 February,” Tourism Minister Ali Waheed told a news conference.

“Exceptions will be made in the case of Maldivian citizens.”

The flu-like virus has caused more than 350 deaths in China since emerging late last year in the central city of Wuhan, where it is believed to have originated in a market illegally trading in wildlife.

Seven Maldivians were evacuated from Wuhan on Sunday by close ally India, and are being held in quarantine along with Indian nationals, Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said.

Direct flights between mainland China and the Maldives have been suspended, and there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in the archipelago.

Reporting by Mohamed Junayd in Male; Writing by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Stephen Coates

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