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Maldives projects 2,000 virus deaths if current situation persists

Shahudha Mohamed
18 April 2020, MVT 10:10
Dr Sheena Moosa presenting the current projections for the COVID-19 pandemic in Maldives during a press briefing held by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). PHOTO: MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
18 April 2020, MVT 10:10

Authorities revealed on Friday night that there is a possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in 2,000 deaths in Maldives if the current circumstances persisted.

Speaking at the press conference held by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), Dr Sheena Moosa presented the current projections for Maldives, based on the recent developments in the 'community spread' stage.

Dr Sheena stated that the number of patients that will have to be admitted based on the latest projections are much larger compared to former speculations.

"We do not have that kind of capacity", she said.

Noting that the situation will be dire if Maldives continued on its current path, Dr Sheena stressed that treatment cannot be provided with a shortage of health care workers even if the state increased bed capacity.

"That means, if we stay in our current situation, about 2,000 people may die".

"For now, we have only identified about 10 positive cases. However, we estimate that the actual number of positive cases may currently be nearing a 100", Dr Sheena said.

According to current projections, the number of infections will peak in a month if the compliance levels of the public remain the same which is currently 50 percent, resulting in almost 26,000 cases by day 28. Authorities estimate that 381 positive cases will be recorded by day 14 and this number will rise to 4,294 by day 21, if the public failed to do their part in social distancing.

However, the projections show that these numbers can be greatly reduced if the compliance levels are raised to 75 percent. This scenario projects 23 cases by day 14, 68 cases by day 21, and 203 cases by day 28.

President's Office's Communications Undersecretary Mabrouq Abdul Azeez stressed that the situation can be improved if the public follows authorities' guidelines and do everything possible to flatten the curve.

The pandemic could result in over 100,000 hospitalised cases in the worst case scenario. According to the authorities, the best possible outcome of the situation is to reduce the number of daily infections, allowing the health sector to function without being overwhelmed.

"It is in the public's hands whether we will see 29 cases or 19,000 cases in the upcoming 14 days", Medical Officer of Health Protection Agency (HPA) Dr Nazla Rafeeq said.

Emphasising the importance of social distancing at this time, Dr Nazla begged tenants in the same building to also remain confined to their households and refrain from contacting those in neighbouring apartments as well.

Social distancing is key to reducing the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the virus can be easily transmitted from one person to another. To contain the spread of risk within the community, Maldives Police Service is apprehending all individuals outside of their homes without authorisation, starting from 2030 hrs Friday night.

Mabrouq revealed that 74 individuals were taken into police custody within the first seven minutes of implementing these measures.

In response to the first local transmission of the coronavirus, HPA issued a Red alert for Male' City and placed the greater Male' region under lockdown, which has been extended to May 1. The lockdown prohibits all civilians and those with special permits to leave their residences, as well as a ban on all land and sea transportation within the area. HPA has also ordered a nationwide travel ban, with special exceptions made for cargo transportation and fishing vessels.

Maldives now has 29 confirmed and 13 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 16 recoveries.

The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 2.2 million people and claimed over 154,241 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 571,577 people have recovered.