COVID-19: Over 98,000 people could test positive in Maldives

The National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) has warned that over 96,000 people may become infected with COVID-19 in the Maldives without the current measures taken against the virus.

During NEOC's daily press conference held Tuesday, the centre shared estimated projections if a community outbreak emerges in the Maldives. NOEC said the projections were estimated by experts using a special model prepared to assess probable future conditions.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s Medical Officer Dr. Nazla Rafeeq said if inadequate precautionary measures are taken, over 96,000 people are at the risk of being infected with the virus. The study shows over 46,000 people will be infected from the Male' region, and another 51,000 people will likely be infected from the atolls. Dr, Nazla said the situation could escalate to its 'peak' within 45-50 days of initial community transmission. From that point on, over 5000 daily cases are likely to occur, warned Dr. Nazla.

However, such a situation can be avoided with appropriate precautionary measures, said Dr. Nazla, and stressed the importance of practicing personal hygiene and social distancing. Dr. Nazla further said the study has also predicted the results of closing government offices and taking appropriate measures.

Dr. Nazla added that the study also includes estimations of the number of people that may require hospitalization, and the percentage of severe cases. The death rate in such a situation has also been estimated.

Speaker of the parliament Mohamed Nasheed earlier on Tuesday revealed that approximately 2000 people will test positive for COVID-19 even with the current measures in place, out of which 10% will be severe cases. If the current measures are lifted, over 8000 people may be infected with the virus, Nasheed said. The same number of people may get infected with the virus over a period of 210 days even with the current measures, warned Nasheed.

“We are aware of the existing measures taken in the Maldives. With those measures in place, it is estimated about 2000 will be infected with the virus, out of which 5-10% of people are estimated to be severe cases”, said Nasheed.

Speaker Nasheed also provided information on the existing medical facilities in the Maldives and the number of facilities required for a severe outbreak of the virus. He said to prepare for a severe situation, 247 intensive care beds will be required while 235 beds are currently available in the capital Male’ region. He added that a total of 740 hospital beds will be needed whereas there are only 687 beds currently available, and there are 45 ventilators while it may require 197.

Moreover, it will require 367 doctors, 608 intensive care nurses, and 252 nurse attendants. If a lockdown is imposed, it will be to acquire the necessary resources, and facilities to prepare for an outbreak, said Nasheed.

When reporters questioned NEOC on Nasheed's statements, Dr. Nazla said some of the figures being reported by some media are incorrect. When asked if the study conducted by HPA had been shared with anyone, Spokesperson of NEOC, Mabrook Azeez said the report was only presented at a meeting held at the Presidential Palace on Monday, where only top officials of the taskforce were in attendance.