The Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) on Monday revealed that the COVID-19 cluster in Hoadedhoo, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, continues to grow, with a total of 111 contacts traced after coming into direct contact with COVID-19 patients.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) placed Hoadedhoo under monitoring on Friday, after four individuals under home quarantine and two individuals with no known connection to other COVID-19 cases tested positive for the virus.
According to HEOC’s spokesperson and HPA’s Medical Officer Dr Nazla Rafeeq, investigations are underway to identify how the virus made its way to the island.
Moreover, the government has established health facilities to provide treatment for both COVID-19 suspected patients and non-COVID-19 related patients on a segregated basis.
Earlier on Monday, HPA revealed that a total of 19 individuals were confirmed to have the virus after diagnostic tests were conducted on 30 direct contacts of the two unrelated cases, making Hoadedhoo the location with the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the Maldives.
At present, HPA notes that 60 contacts exhibit symptoms of the virus, including five over the age of 50, and two children under the age of one.
The movement to and from the island of Madaveli, which is connected to Hoadedhoo via a causeway, was also prohibited due to the situation, with HPA shutting down cafe’s, restaurants and schools, and mandating face masks to further curb potential transmission.
In addition to collecting over 300 samples from both Hoadedhoo and Madaveli, authorities are also conducting random sampling to estimate the extent of community spread in the two islands.
The samples will be transported to the capital city of Male’ since facilities in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll do not possess the capacity to process all of them. Results are expected to be confirmed within two days.
Speaking to local media Mihaaru, Fa’thaah Hassan, leader of the team sent from Dr Abdul Samad Memorial Hospital to conduct contact tracing in Hoadedhoo, urged all residents of the island to adhere to official coronavirus safety guidelines, such as observing social distancing measures, wearing masks in public and only leaving the house for essential purposes.
He also requested all individuals to provide full cooperation to authorities and be forthcoming about any symptoms and contact history.
Dr Nazla also noted that Monday marked the end of six months since the first COVID-19 case was recorded in the Maldives.
Within the span of these six months, the island nation recorded a total of 8,667 virus cases of which 2,580 are the active case, in addition to 6,052 recoveries and 29 deaths.
In addition to the Greater Male’ region, active virus cases are currently present in 35 inhabited islands as well as 22 resorts across the archipelago.
During the last month, authorities tightened safety measures implemented within the Greater Male’ region, following an alarming upsurge of COVID-19 cases after the state initiated efforts to steer the country towards a ‘new normal’ with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions.
Dr Nazla revealed that the effects of implementing stricter measures will be reflected in the case numbers towards the end of the month.
After a long period of recording over 100 daily cases, the numbers have slipped down to two-digits during the past two days.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives’ capital Malé continues to record a massive chunk of the positive cases.
Dr Nazla Rafeeq recently revealed that the country is heading towards reaching maximum bed capacity, repeatedly advising the public to adhere to HPA’s safety guidelines.
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 27.4 million people and claimed over 896,926 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 19.5 million people have recovered.
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