Maldives, 17th March 2020 – Maldives confirmed the first two cases of the newly declared pandemic of Covid-19 in the country on March 7th, 2020. Since then the country has seen the number rise from 2 to 13 in just a week. While a delicate situation such as this might seemingly overwhelm a country of a little over 400,000 people with limited resources and a weak economy, Maldives has been handling the situation a lot better than many would expect. Here’s a brief timeline of what has gone down since the disease got introduced to the country.
Mobilization of Covid-19 taskforce
It is not unheard of for misinformation and panic to spread like wildfire amongst a disease ridden country, specially when the entire world is struggling to contain and find a cure for the disease. However, Maldives seems to have adopted a “the more you know, the better” policy, where press conferences are held on a semi-daily basis led by the newly assigned spokesperson for the Covid-19 taskforce of the country, Undersecretary of Communications of the President’s Office, Mabrouq Azeez.
The Maldives has also mobilized Covid-19 task forces throughout the country comprising of health workers, emergency response personnel, police and the national defense force. This is essential considering the fact that the country is spread across the Indian Ocean in the form of thousands of islands.
Apart from this, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) along with the Ministry of Health (MoH) have initiated information dissemination protocol which includes information and health tips concerning the viral disease distributed to the residents of the country via social media platforms, SMS, call ring tunes and even on mainstream media. The work done by the Mabrouq and his task force have been gaining praise nationwide.
Dedicated Covid-19 reporting hotline
The country was quick to establish a dedicated Covid-19 hotline with a call centre established in Dharubaaruge, the convention centre based in Male’. The hotline is operated throughout the day providing information to callers as well as taking any reports which may come through.
Ensuring adequate care
As an absolute necessity, the country has established a quarantine facility in Villivaru and a quarantine facility in Farukolhufushi. This comes in extension to the multiple buildings and facilities converted into isolation and quarantine facilities in different parts of the country. Designated flu and travel clinics have been set up as well.
In addition to this the country has been working closely with ally countries in securing medicine, equipment as well as medical personnel. So far the country has accepted help from India and is working closely with China to determine areas of assistance.
Restriction of movement
With the first two patients being identified in the Maldives from a resort, the entire island was immediately put on lock down followed by contact tracing and placing close contacts in isolation. Similar protocol followed with other island resorts and the safari from where more cases were identified. Apart from this, schools and universities along with all extra curricular and sports activities have been suspended in the country as a measure of establishing social distancing.
Although the new coronavirus may not be as serious in healthy patients, it can be fatal to patients with underlying health conditions, and can spread fast, if not contained properly. Hence, as per the advice of health care professionals, Maldives has begun steps to contain the spread of the virus by restricting movement within the country, staring from banning travellers from China entering the country. Since then, inbound flights from Italy, Iran, South Korea Germany, France and Bangladesh have also been ceased.