"Alarm bells are ringing; take heed", warns Maldives Health minister

Maldives Health Minister Abdulla Ameen has stated that the archipelago’s situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen day by day.

The minister wrote the statement in a tweet published on Tuesday after the Health Protection Agency, HPA announced the statistics for the day. According to HPA, a record number of 137 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, out of which majority of those infected are Maldivian nationals. This is the most number of people to have tested positive for the virus in one day after the Maldives lifted its lockdown measures.

In his tweet, Ameen noted that the “alarms of danger are getting louder” and implored the public to heed the warnings of health authorities. He called on the public to follow the instructions given by the authorities if they wish for the country to revert to normalcy.

While the number of positive cases has been rapidly increasing over the past week, the Health Emergency Operation Centre has warned that the current surge in COVID-19 cases may be the onset of a second wave of infections.

While 370 cases were recorded over the span of 6 days, most cases were of locals. This is different to the initial surge in positive cases in which most cases were of migrant workers living in cramped conditions.

At the end of June, the Maldives recorded a tally of 2,367 and this figure has recorded a dramatic rise to 3,292 during this month. This is an increase of about 1,000 cases within a month.

Spokesperson of HEOC, Dr. Nazla Rafeeq have expressed concern over the staggering figures. She noted that the fact that 249 out of the 379 cases were of locals was extremely worrying. While most of the recent cases are new clusters unrelated to previously identified cases, the average number of contacts of positive cases has also increased, said the doctor.

“This means a large number of people are at risk of getting infected. The more locals that get infected, the more the elderly community and high risk groups will be exposed to the disease. Such groups are those that would suffer the direst consequences of the illness. Therefore, it is likely that the death toll may also increase,” Dr. Nazla warned.

Noting that the figures from this month are significantly higher than that of the previous month, Dr. Nazla said in addition to the rising number of cases, there are other indicators that signal a second wave of infections may have begun. If the indicators continue to worsen, it is possible that some of the measures previously lifted may have to be re-imposed, the doctor said.