COVID-19: Grim days ahead if instructions are not followed

The capital Male’ region has been placed on a 14-day lockdown following the detection of the first case of local transmission of COVID-19. As a result, many people are left with no choice other than staying at home.

However, some do not abide by the pleas and instruction of the authorities. The few people who flout the orders and guidance of the authorities find some excuse to go out of their homes. They are not bothered about fines, warnings, or being infected with the virus no matter how deadly it is. It seems they are defiantly doing exactly the opposite of what is being asked.

The police have said the delivery system implemented by the government following the declaration of the lockdown has ‘failed’. The shops are overburdened with delivery orders, and they are unable to cater to the demand. To solve the issue, the government called for the assistance of some volunteers. However, the orders kept piling, and it has become a challenge to cater to daily demands. Thus, the government mobilised the national defence force. Despite that, the public’s complaints kept pouring. Ultimately, some helpless individuals were forced to come out of their homes to gather supplies, despite worries of actions being taken against them for violating the movement restrictions.

The failure of the delivery system was clearly sketched out by the police in a news brief. The undelivered number of orders in some shops exceed 4,000. Some people have been complaining that they have not received the items that they ordered on the very first day of the lockdown six days ago. As a result, national security service had to get involved before public disruptions broke out.

The police said they wish to establish easy arrangements for people who need to go to shops to buy essential items. Therefore, a special permit will be granted to each household every three days for a duration of one hour. However, such essential shopping should be done within the residential area of the permit holder, and only one person from per household can be out for shopping.

“Under this permit, we do not allow any additional persons to be out,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Abdul Mannan.

However, this does not mean people should come out of their homes every three days in the name of buying some essential items. The police, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have warned against leaving the house unnecessarily.

No matter how hard the police try to establish a proper system, no matter how good the system is, the unappreciative nature of some individuals will find an excuse to complain. This is made evident by the current situation in Male'.

The situation of Maldives became worse while authorities were urging and advising the public to stay at home and keep social distancing. The current overwhelming situation of the Maldives is the eventual result of some few individuals who disregarded the orders and instructions of the relevant authorities.

Since last Wednesday, several people tested positive for the virus, including the primary and secondary contacts of the infected people. Despite that, some people’s habits have not changed. Few days back, HPA advised the public that this is the time for Maldivians to adapt to a 'new normal'. This echoes the World Health Organization (WHO) advice since the start of the pandemic. It seems like the people who are ignoring the instructions given by authorities are still ignorant to the dangerous and vulnerable situation the country has fallen into. Although contact tracing is not complete, the current figures show over 900 people had person-to-person contact with infected people one way or the other.

The government has now warned the public with strict action against those who flout the rules. The time for advising is now over, and actions will now carry consequences.

“If we are not cautious, the country will be in deep trouble. At some point, there will not be enough doctors and nurses to attend to all the infected people, neither will there be enough equipment”, said Mabrook.

He indicated to estimated figures issued by health experts in the worst-case scenario. If the public does not pay heed to the government’s instructions, the upcoming days will be gloomy. The extent to which the virus has spread in this small but congested city is already worrying. Health experts are continuously working on contact tracing and identifying infected patients and taking measures to flatten the curve.

Local health expert Dr Sheena Moosa has warned that the country does not have the capacity to provide adequate treatment to infected patients if the numbers rise too quickly and too steeply. She warned about the horrific reality of having to part from the loved ones forever if the public does not abide by the authorities’ instructions.