National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) on Tuesday night announced a community spread of COVID-19 in Narudhoo, Shaviyani Atoll, in connection with a boat skipper that recently tested positive for the virus.
Speaking at NEOC's daily virtual press conference, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) Technical Advisory Group (TAG)'s Dr Ibrahim Afzal revealed that nine people, who were in contact with the captain of the cargo vessel 'Amaaz' that travelled to the north earlier this month, were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.
The nine individuals include eight from Narudhoo, the captain's home island, and one from Milandhoo in the same atoll. According to Dr Afzal, they were among 35 high-risk contacts of the captain, with a total of 113 contacts identified so far via tracing.
Carrying 98 passengers on board, Amaaz travelled to the atolls of Haa Alif, Shaviyani and Noonu from capital Male' on April 15, visiting a number of islands:
- Haa Alif Atoll: Dhidhdhoo, Utheemu
- Shaviyani Atoll: Narudhoo, Funadhoo, Milandhoo, Feevah, Maaungoodhoo
- Noonu Atoll: Maafaru, Hen'badhoo, Miladhoo, Velidhoo, Holhudhoo, Ken'dhikulhudhoo
Dr Afzal warned that the Amaaz cluster of COVID-19 cases could potentially be a large one, and thus HPA carried out contact tracing across several islands to identify all the individuals that the captain and passengers could have met. In addition to the islands Amaaz visited, contact tracing was also carried out at:
- Haa Dhaalu Atoll: Hirimaradhoo, Kulhudhuffushi
- Shaviyani Atoll: Goidhoo
- Baa Atoll: Kendhoo
All the islands connected to the Amaaz cluster have now been placed under monitoring.
Should there be other contacts HPA was not aware of, Dr Afzal again urged them to immediately contact the agency via its hotline 1676. He also called on any individuals on these islands that exhibit coronavirus-like symptoms to inform the agency or the island's health centre, further emphasising the importance of providing accurate information to authorities.
Maldives has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since its first confirmed case in the capital city of Male' on April 15 involving a local woman that sought assistance from a flu clinic in Malé after developing symptoms.
With this new development, Maldives records 250 confirmed, 233 active and two probable cases of COVID-19, with a total of 17 recoveries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 3.1 million people and claimed over 213,500 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 938,700 people have recovered.