Dr. Mohamed Ali, from IGMH, said that looking at how certain demographics have been presenting symptoms of COVID-19, there was a high chance of a new variant currently being present in Maldives.
During the media briefing by Health Emergency Operation Center (HEOC) on Tuesday evening, Dr. Mohamed said demographics that had not showed severe symptoms previously have been becoming more serious, and require greater medical attention.
One such group, he noted, were pregnant women.
"When the COVID-19 pandemic started, it was decided pregnant women are not particularly high risk patients. That was globally accepted, and that is how we have been seeing cases so far. Even if pregnant women get COVID and become sick, it does not escalate so that we have to hospitalize and treat them in the ICU," Dr. Mohamed said.
One of the nine people currently admitted in Dharumavantha Hospital is a pregnant woman. She is not being treated via a ventilator, although six other people are.
"Her case is an exemption, we have not seen a case as severe as that before [with a pregnant woman]," Dr. Mohamed said.
With the way the newer cases have been presenting, especially in how they affect both the lungs, Dr. Mohamed predicts that there is a high chance of newer variant already being present in Maldives.
"... with the way how the cases are presenting, how it is involving the lungs, especially as both lungs often show affects of pneumonia, there is a high chance there is a new variant [amongst us] now."
He mentioned that even though the COVID surge in India was more recent, India had new variants as early as late last year. He predicted the raise may have been due to human movements and behavior.
Therefore, he said, the restrictive measures each individual has to take remained the same; maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands frequently.
Dr. Mohamed encouraged everyone to stay vigilant with the safety measures.
Currently 198 people have been hospitalized, out of the 6,508 active cases. 32,665 people have tested positive for COVID so far, with 74 deaths.