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Mabrouq receives high praise as NEOC concludes operations with final conference

Shahudha Mohamed
02 July 2020, MVT 10:15
President's Office's Undersecretary Mabrouq Abdul Azeez at a press conference hosted by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). He received high praise during the last NEOC press briefing held on July 1. PHOTO: NEOC
Shahudha Mohamed
02 July 2020, MVT 10:15

With the transition from lockdown to the 'new normal', the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), created to fight the worst of the ongoing health crisis, hosted their last conference on Wednesday night.

Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen dedicated NEOC's final media briefing to President's Office's Secretary Mabrouq Abdul Azeez, who was the frontman on disseminating information on the state's COVID-19 response to the public.

The face of Maldives' COVID-19 response

Speaking at the monumental briefing, Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen said, "Mabrouq's distribution of information was the bridge between the public and COVID-19".

The minister expressed gratitude towards Mabrouq for providing constant updates to the media and the public, without bias and free of any political influence.

Journalists that virtually joined Wednesday night's press conference also echoed similar sentiments, thanking Mabrouq for his detailed answers and dedication.

In return, Mabrouq highlighted his belief that NEOC's operations were held accountable and further improved due to the relentless questions posed by the media.

Mabrouq also extended his gratitude towards NEOC's press team, Health Protection Agency (HPA), doctors, health professionals, other frontline workers such as National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Maldives Police Service, Maldives Cadet Corps, Girl Guides Association, Maldives Scouts Association, other volunteer workers, Male' City Councils, NGOs, Maldives Red Crescent and sign language interpreters for the different but equally necessary roles they played in the COVID-19 response.

Referring to the case numbers projected by experts, Mabrouq noted that initial projections estimated that 100,000 people would contract the virus in Maldives if necessary measures were not set in place.

He stated that subsequential projections, estimated after implementing containment measures, placed this number at 26,000.

"Todays, four months later, we are in a situation where 2382 cases have been identified. The difference between the projections and the current situation became a reality because of the people".

Noting that Maldives' compliance levels were noteworthy on a global scale, Mabouq thanked the public for their cooperation, and for placing their trust in him.

Stepping outside to the 'new normal'

Assuring that the COVID-19 situation in Maldives is currently stable, HPA's Medical Officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq noted that the number of weekly cases saw a decrease during the past week.

However, she stressed that this does not indicate that the virus is not a danger any longer.

"We cannot go back to how we were living pre-COVID-19", she emphasised, requesting the public to read the guidelines posted on HPA's website and act accordingly in the 'new normal'.

As the state lifts most of the restrictions implemented to contain the virus outbreak in the third phase of easing lockdown measures, Dr Nazla advised everyone to maintain physical distancing and wear face masks in public spaces, in addition to frequent hand washing.

She warned that the public's failure to follow the aforementioned guidelines may lead to another peak.

Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s Medical Officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq. PHOTO: NEOC

If an individual develops COVID-19-like symptoms, Dr Nazla requested them to self-isolate and inform the authorities immediately.

"We have been noticing that some individuals have been attending work after developing symptoms, without informing us or consulting at a flu clinic".

The doctor expressed concerns that such actions will expose others to high-risk, reiterating the importance for the public to follow the guidance of authorities.

Maldives presently records total of 2,382 confirmed cases, out of which 414 are active cases of COVID-19. Thus far, the country records 1,954 recoveries and ten fatalities.

The COVID-19 outbreak in the Maldives’ capital has disproportionately affected its migrant worker population, the majority of whom are Bangladeshi nationals living in highly congested quarters where it is impossible to reduce contact or exercise social distancing.

Their often small-spaced living conditions have been described by local and international civil society organizations as, "claustrophobic", "unsanitary" and "overcrowded". Meanwhile, the authorities have moved to identify such labour quarters and move the expatriates to safer environments.

As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives' capital Malé recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the first weeks following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15.

However, the number of recoveries have continued to rise, with over 82 percent of patients now recovered.

On March 12, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 10.6 million people and claimed over 516,300 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 5.8 million people have recovered.

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