The Maldives Government has opened a 'luxury coronavirus resort' on the island of Villivaru, Kaafu Atoll, some 25km south of the capital, Malé.
According to a video report from the South China Morning Post, the establishment was built in just 10 days to house victims of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, where they would be able to enjoy free luxury accommodation and treated by medical staff for no cost.
At first glance, it appears to be a rather idyllic form of quarantine – 30 air-conditioned rooms on an island that many people would refer to as a 'paradise'. However, the story is not quite as dreamy as it might seem.
Villivaru was home to a popular luxury resort during the '80s and '90s, but one which has lain abandoned since 2006. Exact details are not easy to find, but it appears that a Singaporean investment group bought Villivaru with the intention of refurbishing and expanding the resort. Unfortunately, construction of the new buildings resulted in serious damage to the surrounding coral reef. The investor then abandoned the development rather than pay the hefty fine imposed by the Maldives government, and the resort has lain derelict ever since.
Other resorts including Kuredu, Vilamendhoo and Kuramathi have already been placed under quarantine after tourists suspected of being infected with the virus fell ill. The Maldives government has heavily restricted travel between resorts and inhabited islands and has placed restrictions on arrivals from a number of countries. Currently, visitors from the UK are prohibited from visiting, but it is still possible for tourists from other countries to make their way to the islands.
While the 'coronavirus quarantine resort' was not constructed completely from scratch, its refurbishment by a team of 50 workers within 10 days is nevertheless a remarkable achievement. It's certainly a more inviting prospect than being cooped up at home under the overcast UK skies and worrying about the toilet paper supply situation. However, as one commentator on the Maldives Finest website noted quite bluntly:
'In case you are thinking that you have got an idea for a free holiday, all patients would be quarantined in the rooms, you will not be allowed to roam around on the white sandy beaches of Villivaru island.'