COVID-19: Minister hints lockdown may be extended

The government has hinted that the lockdown imposed on Male' city may be extended.

Male' city was placed on a lockdown on a 14 day lockdown after the first case of local transmission of COVID-19 was identified in capital Male'.

Answering journalists' inquiries at the National Emergency Operations Centre's press briefing on Saturday, Health Minister Abdulla Ameen said he does not believe the situation in Maldives in the upcoming days will allow for the lockdown imposed on Male' to be lifted. The current rate of transmission suggests the number of cases will increase in the upcoming days, said the minister.

Minister Ameen said the epidemiological characteristics of the clusters identified in Male' region are becoming clearer, and the hotspots of infections are now being pinpointed. When the clusters are properly identified, taking measures to curb contagion will become easier, said the minister.

"Taking the country's current situation into consideration, I do not believe the country will be able to go back to its previous normal or to a state where the lockdown can be lifted within the next four days," said the minister.

Minister Ameen said any decisions regarding the lockdown will be made after assessing the rate of transmission and the effectiveness of the measures currently imposed. He further said authorities are discussing reviewing some of the policies being followed in testing and quarantining, based on the current rate of transmission.

The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Maldives have now reached 137.