COVID-19: Not safe to lift restrictions, says HEOC

Maldives’ Health Protection Agency (HPA) has stated that the restrictions imposed in the capital Male’ region cannot be lifted in the current situation.

Authorities imposed several restrictions after a spike in COVID-19 cases last August. A vehicle ban between 8:00pm to 5:00am as well as a curfew between 10:00pm to 5:00am are currently in effect. Changes were also brought to operation hours of cafes, hotels and restaurants.

Last August, the number of daily cases recorded were above 100, with 3,900 people testing positive during the month. 12 deaths were recorded in August. However, after restrictions were further strengthened, the number of daily cases have fallen below 100, with a three-digit figure recorded only once during September.

Speaking at a press conference held by the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC), Dr. Ahmed Shaheed from the authority said positive changes are evident compared to August. In this regard, the number of people testing positive from flu centres have declined, and hospital bed occupancy has fallen from a previous occupancy rate of 80 percent. Compared to 12 deaths recorded in August, only five deaths have been recorded thus far in September. However, four out of the five deaths occurred within the span of a week, and that had been a cause of concern, said Shaheed.

The doctor said although the numbers are falling, this is not the time to ease up on restrictions imposed for the safety of the society.

“It is still not safe to say the numbers are declining. I can however say there are signs that the numbers are becoming stable. It is still a little early to say the numbers are declining. Therefore, we cannot relax any of the measures taken by HPA. We cannot be lax about the precautionary measures, it would not be wise,” said Dr. Shaheed.

Noting that the elderly are most at risk due to COVID-19, he urged the public to take extra care to ensure that the risk group remains safe from the infection.

The total number of positive cases recorded in the Maldives is currently at 9,600, and 33 deaths have been recorded to date. 111 people are currently admitted at medical facilities for treatment. While 80 percent of those infected with the virus have recovered from the illness, the number of active cases is 1,422.