Facilities to conduct COVID-19 tests have been established in Addu City, making it the first city outside of the Maldivian capital Male’ City for such testing facilities to be established.
The facilities were established in the Addu Equatorial Hospital, located in Hithadhoo.
Equatorial Hospital announced on Sunday that it has received test kits, and is now ready to conduct PCR tests.
The establishment of COVID-19 test facilities in Addu comes after a 65-year-old woman in a transit quarantine facility after traveling from Male’ City tested positive for the new coronavirus on Friday. The woman had been in quarantine at the Equatorial Village in Gan, where she shared a room with her granddaughter, who tested negative for the virus.
While it marks the first coronavirus case in southern Maldives, a case from within the community has yet to be identified.
The Maldivian government has announced plans to establish coronavirus treatment facilities in five zones. The isolation facility in Addu City, one it is complete, will have 22 patient beds and 20 ICU beds.
Previous attempts to establish coronavirus testing facilities in a private clinic in Feydhoo had fallen through after the Health Ministry denied necessary permits.
National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) spokesperson Mabrouq Azeez said Addu City now has a bio fire machine, which has the capacity to process 24 samples per day.
He also PCR machines will be installed in Addu City and Kulhudhuffushi City in around 10 days, which will increase testing capacity in both cities to 100 to 150 samples per day.
Laboratory technicians from medical facilities in Addu and Kulhudhuffushi have already completed training on the use of the machines in Male’ City.
Maldives identified its first coronavirus case on March 7, and declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic four days later on March 11.
While coronavirus cases had initially been restricted to resorts and safaris, and later quarantine facilities holding inbound travelers, Male’ City identified its first coronavirus case on April 15, prompting a city-wide lockdown and a nationwide ban on nonessential travel.
The populous Male’ City has since become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, contributing to over 90 percent of the total cases.
Maldives has confirmed 2,013 coronavirus cases, out of whom 1,217 have received and eight have died from complications.