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COVID-19: Maldives entering peak caseload, citizens urged to observe strict lockdown measures

Ahmed Aiham
12 May 2020, MVT 00:25
Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed at the National Emergency Operations Centre. PHOTO: PRESIDENT'S OFFICE
Ahmed Aiham
12 May 2020, MVT 00:25

The government on Monday, urged citizens to observe strict lockdown measures as Maldives nears peak caseload phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Speaking at a press conference held at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) jointly held by the Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed and Minister of Home Affairs Imran Abdulla, Minister Waheed noted that measures were in place in preparation for the surge.

According to the Minister, Maldives will reach the peak stage of the outbreak within three days.

Hoping to kickstart tourism in the country, Minister Waheed revealed the country's "best-case scenario" in which virus transmissions are controlled within a month of the surge and tourism institutions can resume operation from July onwards. The Minister also shed light on the "moderate scenario" in which tourism commences from October onwards.

Adding that Maldives would not open its borders before the outbreak was successfully contained, Minister Waheed projected that, in the most negative possible outcome, the country would remain closed for the remainder of the year.

He noted that approximately 2000 tourists had expressed their desire to visit the country, with some intending to stay for upwards of six months. Further, he said that the tourists were undeterred by the likelihood of having to be quarantined in the resorts.

The Minister also thanked over 100 resorts for payments of the land rent owed to the government.

Amid the ongoing state of public health emergency declared on March 12, the administration first imposed the lockdown across the Greater Male' Region on April 15, after a Maldivian national living in the capital tested positive for COVID-19. The lockdown has since been extended multiple times, with the latest development placing its deadline on this coming Thursday, May 14.

Following the lockdown, a number of locals, from various regions across the archipelago, found themselves stranded in the capital area. Authorities have since begun issuing authorisation for those with pressing needs to leave Male' and return to their home islands.

Maldives presently records 862 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 828 are active. The country has experienced three deaths and 31 recoveries.

Capital city Malé, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 since it recorded its first local transmission of the virus on April 15.

On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 4.2 million people and claimed over 285,450 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.5 million people have recovered.

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