Dr. Nazla: Working to control outbreak without re-imposing lockdown

Dr. Nazla Rafeeq at a National Emergency Operations Center press briefing. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) said on Saturday that the authorities are working on controlling the coronavirus outbreak without re-imposing a lockdown, but that additional restrictions will be enforced as cases continue to rise.

In a press conference on Saturday night, HEOC spokesperson and epidemiologist Dr. Nazla Rafeeq said the majority of the people are compliant with the instructions being issued to curb the spread of the disease.

She noted that many people do not go out unless necessary, wear masks in accordance with the guidelines, and practice social distancing.

But while the majority is compliant, the disease will continue to spread for as long as there are some who do not follow the safety guidelines, she said.

Nazla said that a perpetual lockdown isn’t possible, and people have already experienced the hardship of a full lockdown.

“No one can stay confined in a lockdown forever. We have already experienced a two month. A two-and-a-half month lockdown and it had a huge impact on the economy. Families faced huge hardships.  It gave rise to many social issues. It’s not possible to remain under lockdown until we receive a vaccine. We need to learn to live with this disease,” she said.

Nazla said that a vaccine isn’t expected to be produced until the end of this year or the beginning of next year at the earliest, and that it isn’t possible to remain under lockdown until then.

The relaxation of the lockdown in July 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.

Nearly 700 cases have been recorded over the past one week period.

Maldives has 3,949 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 156 new cases recorded this Saturday – marking the biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases to be recorded in the country. 2,613 patients have since recovered, while 16 have died from complications.

“We continue to work to control this without going for another lockdown. But additional restrictions will need to be imposed if cases continue to rise,” said Nazla.