Two new cases in Maamendhoo; social stigma a concern

Two additional people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ga. Maamendhoo.

An individual who was completing home quarantine in Maamendhoo tested positive for the virus earlier on June 18. Two other individuals were also in home quarantine with the positive patient.

According to the President of Maamendhoo Council, Mohamed Zaeem, the two new cases are of the individuals sharing the same household as the initial positive case. Zaeem said all three people traveled to the island from Male' city on June 13, and are siblings. No other persons live in their home, said Zaeem. He added that all three people are being treated at the island and that their condition is not serious.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has previously revealed that 40 people were identified during contact tracing for the initial case, all of whom had traveled via the same flight as the brothers. 13 people have been isolated in connection to the initial case - the two new positive cases, contacts five contacts in Gemanafushi who traveled on the same flight and five contacts in Male' city. Those isolated from Male' city include airport staff.

Although the island's general condition has not changed, Zaeem said he is concerned of how people from other islands in the atoll are treating Maamendhoo residents. Although the island has not been placed on HPA monitoring status, the residents of the island who wish to travel to neighbouring Thinadhoo and Villingili for medical purposes are prevented from boarding ferries, said Zaeem. While some dialysis patients are in Maamendhoo,, they are facing challenges in traveling to Thinadhoo for dialysis as the service is not available in Maamendhoo.

"No government authorities have placed this island on monitoring status. However the atoll council has instructed ferries not to operate to this island. If this is the case, those who require urgent medical attention will need to hire a private speedboat for MVR 5000-6000 to travel to Thinadhoo or Villingili. This is not affordable for an average citizen. We are therefore concerned about how the residents of our island are being perceived by others in the atoll," said Zaeem, adding that the issue has been brought to the attention of authorities.