The Health Protection Agency (HPA), on Thursday, confirmed that 36 additional individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in Maldives, while 47 patients made recoveries.
According to the agency, the new cases include 33 Maldivians, two Bangladeshi nationals and one Indian citizen.
Speaking at the press briefing held by the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC), HPA's Senior Medical Officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq revealed that 14 out of the 36 individuals that tested positive were independent cases.
HPA's Epidemiologist Dr Ibrahim Afzal described this as a "concerning" development, stating that the public must be aware of the still-present community spread and continue taking necessary precautions to avoid infection.
Emphasising that the number of non-linked cases (independent cases, or the first case of a cluster) were higher amongst locals compared to expatriates, Dr Afzal stated that this meant Maldivians were slacking in safety measures.
Authorities continue to reiterate the importance of only stepping out of home for essentials, frequent hand-washing and sanitising, in addition to wearing face masks as required per HPA's guidelines.
Noting that some concerns were raised by media and the public over the latest COVID-19 related death and some specific individuals who tested positive, Dr Nazla provided further details on the aforementioned cases.
She revealed that the 70-year-old local woman, declared deceased on arrival, was brought to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) at 1300 hrs on Wednesday.
Her sample was taken at 134 5hrs, and her body was released from the hospital for burial at 1350hrs.
Noting that authorities received the deceased individual's test results at 1530 hrs, HEOC revealed that guidelines will be updated to reduce risk in transporting and conducting funeral proceedings for potential patients that succumb to COVID-19.
Referring to the case identified in Nolhivaram, Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Dr Nazla disclosed that the individual travelled to Nolhivaram after undergoing surgery in capital Male' on June 23, and being discharged on June 26.
The patient travelled to their home island with the necessary permits after their sample was randomly collected on July 3.
Dr Nazla explained that the delay in test results was caused due to a backlog in the system. Upon receiving confirmation on Thursday that the individual tested positive, she revealed that five contacts were quarantined regarding the case.
Moreover, Dr Nazla stated that 31 individuals were placed in quarantine after an employee of Football Association of Maldives (FAM) tested positive. The individual developed COVID-19-like symptoms on July 4 and tested positive on July 7.
With these developments, Maldives presently has a total of 2,553 confirmed and 306 active cases of COVID-19. Thus far, the country records 2,227 recoveries and 13 deaths.
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 86 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 12.2 million people and claimed over 554, 500 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 7.1 million people have recovered.