The pandemic is (still) on

While the Omicron variant might not be 'as' lethal, it spreads faster and, without caution and vigilance, may overwhelm current resources.

Asad Photo Maldives via Pexels

Asad Photo Maldives via Pexels

As anticipated and quietly discussed on the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases post New Year’s festivities, a sudden spike in positive cases  has reached 2,609, which is almost a 1,000 more than the recorded peak number in the Maldives in May 2021. With a total of 15,721 active cases, currently there is a recorded 57 patients hospitalised, and 7,584 samples to be tested. To this day, a total of 271 deaths have tallied for the Maldivian population — COVID-19 is now on record as the pandemic that took the most Maldivian lives.

As of January23 , there are 74 new cases of the Omicron variant, increasing the total to 125 cases. These cases have been found across 11 islands and cities. With the new variant, the average rise in cases is currently at 2,000 a week, which is of great concern as it raises the expected peak numbers exponentially. This does leave the option for a lockdown open, however, the challenge seems to be that prolonging restrictions will leave a lasting dent on the country’s economy.

The authorities are conducting weekly reviews and are constantly adapting guidelines to the ever worsening situation, establishing more sample points and flu clinics. All measures are taken after discussion and advice of international experts in the field.

Currently there are three active flu clinics within the Greater Malé region: Senahiya Flu Clinic, Villimalé Flu Clinic, and Hulhumalé Hospital, and the FAM Building has been established as a clinic for positive cases.

Vaccinations for the first and second dose, as well as the booster dose continues with complete double dose of vaccination to 369,337 and 55,612 booster shots administered.

With the ongoing campaign to vaccinate all school children, HPA has now completed the necessary preparations to start vaccinating children between the ages five to 11.

It is important to note with the increase in cases, that those tested positive who have yet to get the booster dose are to wait 28 days clear of symptoms after receiving a negative test result. Furthermore, there have been discussions on implementing strict restrictive measures on those who have not gotten their booster dose yet. This comes with the emphasis on the positive effects from the booster dose on fighting and reducing the spread of the Corona virus.

Travel guidelines have also been pushed to be more cautious, where proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to the departure is yet again required for domestic travel. Added to that, the most recently implemented rapid antigen test is not accepted for domestic travel as the PCR test is still more accurate. For those who have yet to complete both doses of the vaccine, they are restricted from traveling on flights and are also required to complete a quarantine period before a PCR test even for domestic travels.

HPA has advised facilitating working from home for those in quarantine. The most recent guidelines advise that individuals tested positive who have completed their vaccination doses quarantine for seven days if they are asymptomatic. Contacts on the other hand, are to quarantine for 10 days starting from the day of contact. If these contacts have not completed their vaccination, a 14 day quarantine period is to be in effect and only be released upon a negative PCR test.

The COVID-19 pandemic has yet to slow down, and it will continue to surge if the necessary precautions are not being put in to action. While the authorities put their procedures in, continuously updating them as the situation evolves, it is critical that every individual also play their part; which is to vaccinate, boost, wash hands, mask up and keep distance while being empathetic of the situation we all find ourselves in.

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