Ministry of Health announced late Thursday that a Maldivian is being tested for the Novel Coronavirus, the first suspected case in Maldives.
Speaking at a late night press briefing, Minister Abdulla Ameen disclosed that the patient suspected of being infected by the deadly virus is a 20-year-old male who arrived from Xiamen, China, on Wednesday night.
According to the minister, the patient is currently quarantined at the isolation facility in Funadhoo island. He stated that the patient is stable and that his test results will be available by Friday night.
Although the patient did not have any noticeable symptoms during the airport screening process on arrival, he later began to exhibit flu-like symptoms and sought medical help himself.
The patient's travel history shows that he visited a meat market at Xiamen. Visiting a meat market in the vicinity of the virus outbreak within the past 14 days is one of the clinical criterion for patients under investigation for the virus. Per foreign media, experts have confirmed that the Novel Coronavirus outbreak began at a wholesale animal market in Wuhan City of the Hubei Province in China.
The health ministry revealed that there were 101 suspected cases in the area where the patient stayed in China. However, he had not travelled to Wuhan or any other cities in Hubei Province, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.
Dr Ziyan of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital stated that the patient exhibited only symptoms similar to a common cold, and that his blood sample has been sent for testing. He assured that the patient was not in serious condition.
"He was in his room after he returned to Male' and did not go out at all. He has not been in contact with anyone else," added the doctor.
Health Minister Ameen reiterated that the authorities are closely following the guidelines set by World Health Organisation and other relevant international institutions.
The government has initiated precautionary measures to prevent a Novel Coronavirus outbreak in Maldives, and made arrangements to immediately respond in the event an infected individual is found in the country. Under these measures, Maldives halted direct flights to and from China on Thursday, while the administration has established thermal screening cameras in all airports across the archipelago to detect suspect cases.
Although the government also announced that isolation facilities have been prepared, Ministry of Health has stated that samples from suspected cases would have to be tested at Pune, India, as Maldives currently lacks the equipment to conduct tests.
So far, the deadly virus has claimed over 170 lives in China, while the number of confirmed infections have reached over 7, 700 across the world.