'Now is the right time to open the borders'

A South African doctor who trained Maldivian doctors and nurses in COVID-19 response has stated that it is now the right time to lift the measures taken to combat COVID-19 in the Maldives and re-open the country's border.

Speaking at a press conference held by the government's main hospital, IGMH to provide information on the training offered to doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients, Dr. Bruce Stover said although COVID-19 remains a threat to the world, prolonging the lockdown could result in more deaths stemming from other illnesses.

Noting the the adverse economic effects on the tourism dependent island nation following the closure of the tourism industry, Dr. Stover said the country is now prepared to deal with dire situations that may arise from high number of COVID-19 cases, and has increased the capacity to be able to treat those who become gravely ill due to the virus.

Adding to Dr. Stover’s remarks, Dr. Mohamed Ali from IGMH said the most vital treatment source for seriously ill COVID-19 patients is oxygen, and noted that the oxygen capacity available at IGMH has been significantly increased. Dr Mohamed Ali said while the hospital's initial oxygen capacity was 7 million, it was estimated at the start of the pandemic that an oxygen capacity of 16 million would be required to treat COVID-19 patients at the peak of infection. The hospital has now increased its capacity beyond the requirement and has a stock of 36 million, said the doctor.

“As per our estimates, when the infection reaches a peak, 16 million stocks of oxygen will be required. Before, our capacity was 7 million. However, it has now been increased to 36 million,” said Dr. Mohamed Ali.

Dr. Mohamed Ali said in addition to doctors from South Africa, medical experts from the United States provided specialised training for more then 600 doctors and nurses across the Maldives on treating COVID-19 patients.