Health Protection Agency (HPA) projected that Maldives would record over 98,000 cases of COVID-19 in the event of a community spread, should the stringent measures currently in effect to control the virus be lifted.
Speaking at the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC)'s daily press conference late Tuesday, HPA's Medical Officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq gave a presentation detailing projections for a possible community spread scenario in Maldives, based on a model developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Imperial College London of the United Kingdom.
According to Dr Nazla, cumulative COVID-19 infections were expected to reach over 46,600 in the capital region alone in the event of community spread, without any preventive and control measures in place. A third of the Maldivian population, which numbers over 400,000, reside in the greater Male' region comprising Male', Hulhumale' and Vilimale', and authorities have already cautioned that controlling a possible outbreak would be most challenging within the congested capital.
HPA's projections indicate that, without any measures to control COVID-19, a community spread in Maldives would result in an exponential increase of thousands of new infections daily. The virus is expected to reach its peak on the 47th day from the beginning of community spread, with more than 7,500 new cases on the day itself.
However, Dr Nazla noted that according to the model, infections were expected to reach only 2,000 on the peak day should all institutions and the public execute and follow the preventive measures against COVID-19 enacted across Maldives.
The doctor also touched upon earlier media reports of virus projections for Maldives, which claimed that total infections would reach 8,000.
She explained that it was the estimated number of new cases on the peak day of community spread without control measures, and not the total number of infections projected for the whole country.
Dr Nazla went on to emphasise the importance of ensuring that the pandemic did not overwhelm the Maldivian health sector in providing the necessary care and treatment for patients and suspected cases.
She noted that, per the projections, a community spread without control measures in place would see over 1,300 individuals hospitalised on the peak day, whereas the number could be brought down to only 300 if strict preventive measures were maintained.
HPA also estimated that 15 percent of hospitalisations would be normal admissions and five percent in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) during a community spread. Hence, Dr Nazla stated that without control measures, projections indicate that more than 400 patients would be admitted in the ICU on the peak day, whereas it would be approximately 100 with measures in place.
Underscoring the importance of maintaining and following the steps taken by the authorities to curb and control COVID-19 in Maldives, she further assured that, based on the model's projections, relevant authorities are working to minimise the incidence and spread of the coronavirus in the country as much as possible.
Maldives now has 20 confirmed and four active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 16 recoveries. The confirmed cases include five Maldivians, out of which three have recovered so far.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 1.98 million people and claimed over 121,700 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 460,200 people have recovered.