Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem confirmed on Thursday that the Covid-19 situation in Male' City has worsened to the point where a full lockdown is needed to control the virus, and has revealed that authorities are working towards reducing cases without initiating such strict measures.
Health Minister Naseem made the remarks at a discussion held at the People's Majlis on Thursday, as the parliament is currently working towards preparing special legislation for tour operators and tour agencies at this time. Speaking at the discussion, Health Minister Naseem noted that the Maldivian economy was hinged around the tourism sector, and that tourism made up 84 percent of the nation's foreign currency inflow. Health Minister Naseem went on to confirm that the state of Covid-19 in Male' City had worsened to the point where a full lockdown was now needed to control the virus.
However, Minister Naseem assured that authorities were working towards reducing the capital city's caseload without initiating such strict, inconvenient and economically constrictive measures. He also highlighted that the pandemic had grown this dangerous in Male' City only, and that resorts and other islands across the Maldives had fared much better despite confirmed outbreaks.
In addition to this, Health Minister Naseem revealed that there was a need for more awareness programmes that adequately communicated the risks of Covid-19 to the public, and appealed for support from the People's Majlis towards such an endeavor on behalf of health authorities. Minister Naseem announced that the Health Ministry would be working towards conducting awareness programmes on the risks and dangers of Covid-19 in association with local medias and TV stations as well.
Minister Naseem also went on to express concern that some high-profile religious scholars were challenging new normal guidelines and instructions set forth by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) at this critical juncture, and noted that this had resulted in ideological conflicts among religious scholars as well.
"Religious scholars have been issuing fatwas declaring social distancing and effective masking as unnecessary measures... things should not have progressed to this point. The result is a conflict between declarations issued by religious scholars and intellectuals specialized in other fields. This is not an issue of religion; this is an issue of illness. It is absolutely upsetting that some are propagating such a dangerous rhetoric. Every mosque is calling for devotees to attend prayers while masked. However, there still remain some who proclaim that they will not get Covid-19, who refuse to wear masks. This is highly concerning— 23 of our staff who were engaged in contact tracing have now contracted the infection. This [Covid-19] virus is one that spreads exceedingly quickly."Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem
The number of Covid-19 cases being reported in the Maldives have been on the rise since December last year, with the island nation averaging over 100 new cases of the infection almost every day in recent weeks. Health authorities have tightened restrictions accordingly in regions where the virus is reported to be in active spread, especially so in the nation's capital of Male', where a curfew and vehicle movement restriction order is now in effect.
The most recent statistics made public by HPA confirm that 124 persons tested positive for Covid-19 across Maldives on Wednesday alone, majority if which correspond to cases confirmed in Male' City. As of now, the Maldives' total Covid-19 tally is at 19,612 cases, with over 90,000 persons having been vaccinated against the infection across the nation by sundown on Wednesday.