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News in brief: school holidays begin

Five percent of Hajj quota reserved for patients with life-threatening illnesses.



Schools across the country closed on Thursday for a long holiday after the final semester of the year.

Report cards were handed out at most schools ahead of the one and a half month break. More than 73,000 students were enrolled from grades one to 12. The 2020 academic year is scheduled to begin on January 12.

Ahead of the expected exodus from the capital to other islands, the coastguard launched an operation on Thursday to inspect boats for safety standards.

Five percent of Hajj quota reserved for patients

The state-owned Hajj Corporation has decided to reserve five percent of its annual quota for patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

Successful applicants will be allowed to take up two helpers to perform the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. The Hajj Corporation also invited local companies to register to send employees on the pilgrimage.

Of the annual  1,000 visa quota allocated to the Maldives, half is reserved for Hajj Corporation and the rest is awarded to private groups through a bidding process. The Saudi government also awarded an extra 1,000 visas since 2014 as “a special gift by the Saudi King”.

Garbage collector attacked

A garbage collector from the state-owned Waste Management Company was attacked on Tuesday.

A man from a house on Fandiyaaru Magu in Malé dumped a bag of trash on WAMCO collector Yoonus Adam Koe around 7:45pm on Tuesday. The man was angered when Yoonus stopped him from putting the bag in the truck as the house was not registered for collection.

He “escaped the incident without serious injury and remains unshaken by the circumstances,” WAMCO said on Wednesday after its managing director and senior officials met Yoonus to clarify his account and applauded his bravery. “Incidents of assault are a matter of grave concern to us, and we will take strict action against anyone who cause harm to any of our employees.”

Malé jail annex reopened after repairs

An annex of the Malé jail used to detain elderly and sick prisoners was reopened on Wednesday after repairs to meet international standards.

Home Minister Sheikh Imran Abdulla reopened the annex after that it was “fit for human dignity,” the home ministry said. The annex will not accommodate a maximum of 10 prisoners, down from 17 prisoners before repairs, Imran said.

“The bathroom and toilets have been repaired to an appropriate standard. A very open area for inmates to exercise during the day has been repaired,” he said, adding that prisoners will be out of their cells from 5am to 10pm.

Earlier this year, a committee was formed to oversee prison reform after an audit uncovered “shameful” problems including from overcrowding, unsanitary living conditions, lack of opportunities to exercise and failure to meet World Health Organisation standards in providing food and water.

German tourist died in diving accident

A German tourist at the Safari Island Resort in Alif Alif atoll died during a diving trip on Wednesday. The tourist was dead upon arrival at the Mahibadhoo hospital, police said.

A British tourist at the Kuredu resort drowned last Sunday while out snorkelling.

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