Maldives to offer vaccines as part of tourist package

Male, Apr 19 (EFE).- Maldives will offer a chance to administer anti-Covid vaccines to tourists as an added attraction to the archipelago’s tourism industry, one of the mainstays of its economy.

“Vaccine tourism is a vision of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. We plan to implement it in the same way as medical tourism,” Maldivian Tourism Minister Abdulla Mausoom told EFE on Monday.

“The 3V program: visit, vaccinate, vacation,” will be launched in the country only after all the inhabitants of Maldives – which has a population of around 540,000 – have been vaccinated, he added.

The minister explained that the tourists would be able to choose the vaccine of their preference from those available in the country and remain on the islands until receiving the second dose.

“The setting of hotel complexes is perfectly safe for vaccination. The tourists can stay 5-8 weeks and receive their second dose or leave and come back for the second dose,” Mausoom said.

The minister expects the problem of vaccine shortage in the country to be resolved before the plan is launched.

Maldives is administering doses of Covishield, the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish lab AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. The vaccines were supplied by India as part of a diplomatic outreach.

The authorities are also using imported doses of the vaccine developed by Chinese lab Sinopharm as well as the Pfizer antidote.

A total of 40,230 Maldivians have been fully vaccinated, while around 280,000 locals – around 52 percent of the population – and expats have received at least one dose of an anti-Covid vaccine.

The economy of Maldives, which depends considerably on the tourism industry, has plummeted after international borders were closed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Even when borders were reopened four months later, tourist arrivals were slow to pick up, although the numbers have kept increasing since then, according to tourism ministry data.

So far, Maldives has registered around 26,000 Covid infections and 70 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. EFE


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