President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Monday, stated that implementing lockdown measures over the capital city of Male' would be detrimental and urged citizens to adhere to COVID-19 safety regulations.
He asserted that all citizens needed to support the effort to control the virus and follow the Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s instructions.
The president's statement came amid a marked increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases. The ongoing surge began after the state relaxed restrictions, a move criticised by several citizens on social media as being "premature".
However, in June, Maldives initiated efforts to steer the country toward a 'new normal' in response to a decrease of cases across May. A number of business owners as well as the Maldivian working class welcomed the moderate measures amid the severe economic regression.
Nevertheless, the new increase in cases reported daily has caused the total percentage of recovered patients to fall from a peak of 86 to 62 percent.
As a measure to control the rapid spread of COVID-19, the government mandated wearing face masks in public spaces of the capital starting from July 30 onwards. Non-compliance carries a fine of MVR 1,000.
Additionally, HPA is currently conducting strict inspections on cafés, restaurants, shops, gyms, fitness centres, salons and markets to ensure the proper implementation of coronavirus safety guidelines.
President Solih also declared that government offices are to remain closed from August 4 to 6 as a precautionary measure, since the highest number of close contacts reported by COVID-19 patients were connected to workplaces, as per statistics publicized by the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) last week.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives' capital recorded a significant number of COVID-19 cases in the first weeks following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15.
Authorities swiftly implemented a city-wide lockdown, which severely impacted the local economy due to disruptions in commercial activities during the two months the restrictions remained in place.
At present, Maldives records a total of 4,293 confirmed and 1,489 active COVID-19 cases, along with 2,670 recoveries and 18 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 18.4 million people and claimed over 697,189 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 11.6 million people have recovered.