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COVID-19: Maldives mandates face masks, MVR 1000 fine for violations

Mariyam Malsa
30 July 2020, MVT 19:49
Pedestrians wearing face masks after the government lifted lockdown measures in the capital city of Male'. AHMED AWSHAN ILYAS/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
30 July 2020, MVT 19:49

Authorities, on Thursday, mandated wearing face masks in public spaces of the capital city of Male' in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

The decision, announced by the President's Office, was approved during a meeting of the National Task Force chaired by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Noting that averting another lockdown would benefit a spectrum of stakeholders, PO urged citizens to limit their movements, reduce the number of close contacts, practice social distancing and work from home if possible.

Later speaking at a press conference held by the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) on Thursday, spokesperson and Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s medical officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq revealed that individuals in public spaces without masks would be fined by MVR 1,000 starting from August 1.

During a programme broadcasted by Raajje TV on Wednesday, Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen expressed his opinion on the necessity of mandating face masks and added that discussions to implement such a measure were underway.

Noting the proven effectiveness of face masks in controlling the spread of COVID-19, the minister voiced concern over the considerable number of citizens seen in public places without wearing masks.

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

Following three months of strict lockdown, the state initiated efforts to steer the country towards a 'new normal' with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions across the Greater Male' Region in July.

COVID-19 cases surged again after the government eased restrictions, reducing the total amount of recovered patients from the peak 86 to 71 percent.

The total number of positive cases in Maldives has reached 3,567, with 982 active cases. Till date, the country recorded 2,554 recoveries and 16 deaths.

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 17.2 million people and claimed over 671,200 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 10.7 million people have recovered.

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