Maldives National University (MNU) commenced research on determining the spread of COVID-19 within the community with the recent easing of lockdown measures.
Speaking at the daily press briefing held by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) late Wednesday, the Dean of MNU’s Research Centre Dr Raheema Abdul Raheem stated that samples for this research will be collected from high-risk groups with a higher chance of passing the virus on to others.
Raheema noted that 261 daily samples will be collected for the research, from five identified high-risk groups including frontline workers, correctional officers, senior citizens, those living in congested communal living situations and those aged between 20 to 39.
Cluster Head of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team (RRT) Abdul Hameed disclosed that sample collection is already underway, adding that 50 per cent of the total samples required for the first week of research have now been collected.
“We will be collecting samples and determining the prevalence [of the virus] as we receive the results”, Raheema said.
“When the results are generated we will know, based on the current COVID-19 numbers, how much the virus is spreading”.
The research will be conducted over the span of the next two months.
On June 10, Health Protection Agency’s (HPA) Epidemiologist Dr Ibrahim Afzal revealed that authorities will conduct random sampling to determine the level of community spread while lockdown restrictions are lifted in phases.
Afzal had also explained that the transition from one phase of lockdown to the next will depend on the results of the random sampling carried out to determine the level of community spread and requested the public to cooperate with the authorities in the matter.
Noting that random sampling will follow a similar procedure to the tests conducted daily, Afzal had stated that PCR testing will be carried out for each sample, and positive cases will be isolated and placed in treatment facilities.
“We will also conduct contact tracing for positive cases”, he had assured.
In addition to the ongoing research on determining community spread, Raheema also highlighted that MNU is carrying out various other researches in relation to the ongoing pandemic, including studies on the economic, social and psychological effects of the crisis.
Moreover, the university is conducting research on COVID-19’s effect on the tourism industry, on request by the Parliament.
MNU is further assisting NEOC in the COVID-19 response in additional areas. Raheema noted that over 1,200 students and 300 staff members have participated in providing training programmes regarding the pandemic, as well as conduction of contact tracing and collection of samples.
The Maldives presently records a total of 2,120 confirmed cases, out of which 433 are active cases of COVID-19. The country records 1,677 recoveries and eight fatalities so far.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives’ capital Malé recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the first weeks following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15.
However, the number of recoveries have continued to rise, with over 79 per cent of patients now recovered.
WHO has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 8.4 million people and claimed over 451,000 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 4.4 million people have recovered.
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