COVID-19: 'Number of cases likely to increase despite current dip'

The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) has warned that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Maldives may increase in the upcoming days, although the number of new cases dipped over the past three days.

Speaking at NEOC's daily news conference on Sunday, Dr. Ibrahim Afzal from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the decrease in the number of new cases does not necessarily mean the rate of transmission has decreased. The doctor said the biggest cluster identified to date is linked to several smaller clusters identified within migrant labour quarters, and a lot of labour quarters still need to be assessed. Therefore, the numbers could continue to increase in the upcoming days, said the doctor.

'I would not say this is the time to relax. Although the number of cases identified over the past three days were comparatively lesser, it is highly likely that a large cluster may be identified in the upcoming days, which could contribute to a sudden surge in the number of cases', said Dr. Afzal.

Recently, 95 positive cases of COVID-19 were identified from a single labour quarter within a span of 24 hours. While 23 high-risk labour quarters have been identified, only seven sites have been assessed thus far. Therefore, more positive cases could emerge from the remaining sites, said Dr. Afzal.

The total number of positive cases identified in the Maldives has now reached 527. This includes 181 locals and 346 foreigners. The archipelago recorded six positive cases on Sunday and 28 positive cases on the previous day.

Dr. Afzal said a large number of individuals who contract the virus in Maldives display little to no symptoms of the virus. Therefore, it is likely that many infected people may remain unaware that they are infected, the doctor said. There is also a high chance that many people may recover from the disease without knowing they were infected in the first place.

'This means the actual number of cases could be higher than what we are seeing,' said the doctor.