The Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) has warned that the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, will spread across the Maldives.
Speaking at a press conference held Tuesday, HEOC's Spokesperson Dr. Fathmath Nazla Rafeeq, said eight Maldivians have tested positive for Omicron thus far, and the current numbers indicate that the number of locals infected with Omicron will be more.
Nazla said Omicron cases take one to three days to double in number. Although the Delta variant mainly spread in the capital city, Male', Omicron is likely to reach all corners of the Maldives with the travel eases previously granted to vaccinated individuals, she said.
'We are hoping to strengthen measures such that it does not significantly affect the economy, and we hope to continue the school sessions without interruption,' said Nazla.
The spokesperson said changes would be brought to the COVID-19 guidelines over the next few days and that the guidelines could frequently change, sometimes weekly. Noting that Omicron could spread rapidly over the next two weeks, Nazla said over 1,000 positive cases being recorded within a week indicate how serious the situation is. Even though Omicron cases are currently mainly in Male', cases have also been identified in K. Maafushi and Dh. Kudahuvadhoo, she said. Four cases were identified in Male', three in Maafushi and one in Kudahuvadhoo. Nineteen cases have also been identified in operational resorts.
Nazla refuted claims that sample collection has slowed with the emergence of Omicron cases. Nazla said sample collection is ongoing without interruption and that some results are pending.
Further noting that Omicron cases would increase and bypass Delta numbers over the next few days, Nazla said the public must take precautionary measures in addition to adhering to the Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s guidelines.
Nazla assured that HEOC would continue monitoring the situation and taking steps as needed.