The Indian Ocean holiday destination recorded a single-day rise of 1,500 cases on Tuesday, from less than 100 a month ago.

Wealthy Indians can no longer escape the pandemic raging in their country by vacationing in the Maldives, after the paradise island said it would ban travel from South Asia as it battles an increase in COVID-19 infections.

The Indian Ocean holiday destination in southwest India reopened its tourist resorts in July last year after halting international flights for more than three months at the start of the pandemic.

But the atoll nation, an island group of 340,000 people, is grappling with a rise in cases, including a record single-day rise of 1,500 on Tuesday – up from less than 100 cases just a short time ago. a month.

Countries in South Asia, including its biggest neighbor India, have been hit by a huge and deadly new wave of infections.

“The Government of the Maldives has decided to temporarily suspend the issuance of tourist visas for travelers from South Asian countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka,” the Ministry of Tourism announced on Wednesday. .

The indefinite travel ban would also apply to travelers who spend more than 24 hours in transit through the listed countries, or who have visited them in the previous 14 days, the ministry added.

Indians have been the largest group of visitors to the archipelago this year.

Bollywood stars who had traveled from India in recent weeks include Alia Bhatt, her partner Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, who posted Instagram photos of herself doing sunset yoga at a resort in the Maldives.

Travelers from other countries are still allowed to travel to the resort islands of the Maldives with a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours before arrival, but are not allowed to have contact with the local population.

Earlier this week, the upscale tourist site suspended entry for work permit holders from South Asia.

A nighttime curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. has been extended to start at 4 p.m., as part of measures to slow the spread of the virus.