The Health Protection Agency (HPA), on Monday, revealed that relevant authorities will start random sample collection in Addu Atoll from Tuesday onwards, as a precautionary measure to control the spread of COVID-19.
According to HPA, the sample collection will mainly target ferry workers and shopkeepers.
It is believed that HPA reached this decision due to the recent virus outbreaks in some islands of Gaafu Alif Atoll and Laamu Atoll.
Over 60 cases have tested positive in Dhevvadhoo, where the first outbreak in Gaafu Alif Atoll was identified, since six positive cases were recorded on the island on December 24, 2020.
The number of contacts of Dhevvadhoo's cluster has now surpassed 200, including 100 individuals belonging to high-risk categories.
Due to the leniencies allowed in travel between islands, several people travel between Addu Atoll, Gaafu Alif and Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
Maldives now records a total of 14,582 virus cases of which 960 are active cases, in addition to 13,566 recoveries and 49 deaths.
Last August, authorities tightened the safety measures implemented in the Greater Male' region, following an alarming upsurge of COVID-19 cases after the state initiated efforts to steer the country towards a 'new normal' with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions. After a long period of recording over 100 daily cases, the numbers fell to two-digits during the most part of September 2020.
Throughout the rest of the year, numbers had slipped further down below 50, with a few spikes on rare occasions, but cases have been on the rise throughout January 2021.
HPA recently eased several safety measures imposed to control the spread of COVID-19. These leniencies include the cancellation of the city-wide curfew over the greater Male’ region, the reduction of quarantine periods to 10 days as well as cancelling mandatory quarantine for locals returning to Maldives and for locals travelling to resorts.
However, the agency has renewed calls for citizens to adhere to protective measures to contain the spread of the virus, cautioning against a public sentiment that the outbreak has been “controlled”.