Health Protection Agency (HPA) installed a thermal camera at Velana International Airport (VIA) to screen arrivals for the deadly new coronavirus that recently originated in Wuhan City, China.
According to HPA, individuals with fever detected by the thermal camera will be further assessed in addition to collecting details of their travel history. The camera is installed by the immigration counter at the airport.
Until now, no suspected cases have been recorded, HPA said.
The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has resulted in a total of 17 deaths so far, while the latest reports place the number of reported cases above 500.
The virus causes pneumonia-like symptoms, although currently identified patients fall within a large spectrum of illness. Some patients present with elevated body temperature and dry cough. As the disease progresses, patients experience shortness of breath and respiratory distress.
If any of these symptoms are detected in a person that travelled to China in the past few weeks, HPA urges the public to contact authorities at the hotline +960 7277004.
In addition to China, the virus has also been detected in Singapore, Thailands, Australia and America.
Since various Chinese tourists visit Maldives every day, there is a possibility of an infected patient entering the country.
Speaking at a press conference held at Ministry of Health on Wednesday, Minister Abdulla Ameen assured that preventive measures are in place to ensure the virus does not enter the country. He added that screening procedures will be set up at all entry points, including VIA, and people of all nationalities will undergo these procedures.
HPA announced on Thursday that the quarantine facility set up at reclaimed suburb Hulhumale' in preparation for the recent measles outbreak will be utilised to hold patients suspected of carrying the coronavirus, now that the spread of measles have been controlled.
The facility is set up at a private preschool that has not yet been put to use.
Although Chinese health experts formerly reported that the virus did not appear to be highly contagious between humans, the virus has picked up pace, with a notable spike in the number of cases being detected every day.
World Health Organisation is working with Chinese authorities to conduct investigations on better understanding the epidemiology, clinical picture, source, modes of transmission, and extent of infection, as well as the countermeasures implemented for the virus. However, very little information is available as of yet.