Minister hints state of public health emergency may be extended

The Health Minister has hinted that the State of Public Health Emergency declared in the Maldives may be extended further.

Minister Abdulla Ameen declared a public health emergency in the Maldives on March 12 when the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the global COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. While the public health emergency state was initially declared for 30 days, the duration has been extended twice since then and will expire at the end of this month.

Speaking on local channel RaajjeTV on Wednesday night, Minister Ameen said no decisions have been made on lifting the state public health emergency. While the measure has made it easier for the government to manage the health crisis, it is possible that the state of public health emergency may be extended even if lockdown measures imposed in the country are lifted, said the minister. A decision will be reached soon and the government will announce the way forward, he added.

The government has announced that the lockdown measures imposed on the Greater Male' Area will be gradually eased. A strict lockdown has been in effect since the first case of local transmission was identified in capital Male' on April 15. The lockdown is expected to end on May 28. However, the restrictions will be lifted over several phases, and the first steps include the gradual easing of movement restrictions and opening up opportunities for businesses.