“Danger alarm getting louder”: Health Minister urges precaution

Health Minister Abdulla Ameen at a National Emergency Operations Center briefing on April 6, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Health Minister Abdulla Ameen, on Tuesday, urged the public to minimize movement and take proper precautionary measures, warning that “the sound of the danger alarm is getting louder”.

He made the appeal in a tweet on Tuesday night, shortly before Health Protection Agency (HPA) announced that 137 new cases of the new coronavirus have been recorded over the past 24-hours, marking the biggest single-day spike of coronavirus cases to be recorded in Maldives in nearly two months.

“If you wish for things to return to normal, you must wear masks, maintain social distancing, reduce your contacts, and do not go out unless absolutely necessary,” he said. “The sound of the danger alarm is getting louder!”

Maldives identified its first coronavirus case on March 7, and declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic less than a week later on March 12.

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 capital quickly emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Maldives, contributing to over 90 percent of total cases.

The government began easing many of the lockdown measures following a drop in daily infections in July; borders have been reopened for international travel, mosques in the greater Male’ region have been reopened for congregational prayers, cafes and restaurants reopened for dine-in services, government offices and courthouses have officially reopened, and schools have partially reopened.

Greater public movement following the relaxation of many of the lockdown measures has led to a surge in coronavirus cases. An increasing number of new coronavirus cases are unlinked to existing clusters, which health authorities warn indicates a wide community spread.

With the 137 new cases this Tuesday, coronavirus cases in Maldives have risen to 3,506. 1,623 cases – making for 46 percent of total cases - are Maldivians.

More than 60 of the patients are hospitalized.

Meanwhile, 2,547 coronavirus patients have since recovered, while 15 have died from complications.

Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) has previously stated that the authorities may need to re-impose stricter lockdown measures if cases rise exponentially.