The new and more transmissible variant of Covid-19, ‘Omicron’ has surfaced in the Maldives.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed this on Sunday night, highlighting that the first case of the new variant was confirmed through genome sequencing of a tourist that arrived in the Maldives.
Although HPA is yet to provide more details regarding this, the public health authority had earlier stressed that the variant could have surfaced in the Maldives.
This comes at a time neighboring countries have also been confirming cases of the new coronavirus variant, including India and Sri Lanka.
With this, HPA has urged the public to put in the best efforts to ensure the protection of all and strictly adhere to safety precautions.
This comes not long after Maldives imposed a ban on travel from seven countries in Africa, triggered by the threats of a newly surfaced, more transmissible variant of Covid-19.
According to an announcement issued by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) after sundown on Saturday, the measure was taken as a precautionary measure under the Public Health Protection Act (No. 7/2021).
As such, travelers have been banned from South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Eswatini, including those who visited these countries 14 days before arriving into the Maldives, as well as those who transited in these countries for more than 12 hours.
However, work permit holders and locals are exempt from this new guideline.
Further, the announcement reads that those who have travelled to the Maldives after spending more than 14 days in these countries and over 12 hours in transit, must observe a quarantine period of 14 days.
These individuals will only be released from quarantine once their test results return negative for the infection.
Instructions have also been provided for those who are already headed to the Maldives from these countries, after the publication was issued. As such, they must undergo PCR testing, undergo additional PCR testing after 14 days and completing additional PCR testing before leaving, if they stayed less than 14 days.
Following the public announcement, relevant authorities and institutions have been urged to implement the new guideline.
These new measures have been implemented at a time President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has also revealed that there have been surging concerns regarding the more transmissible ‘Omicron’ SARS-CoV-2 variant.
The new variant, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) was initially named B.1.1529
Research indicates that those who have recovered from the virus are at a high risk of contracting the virus again. The new variant is deemed to highly impact the transmission of the pandemic.
Spokesperson of the Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC), Dr. Nazla Rafeeq also stated that the discovery of the newly surfaced, more transmissible variant of Covid-19 in the Maldives is inevitable, however, efforts may be carried out to slow the spread of the infection.
She further revealed that unlike other variants, the ‘Omicron’ SARS-CoV-2 variant is more transmissible, however this may only be confirmed after thorough research.