10% of Male’ population unknowingly contracted Covid-19: Survey

Rapid Response Team (RRT) operating in Male' City to conduct COVID-19 tests. | Photo: Fayaz Moosa

An antibody sero survey carried out by the Maldives National University (MNU) has shown that 13.4% of the Male’ population carry antibodies that react to COVID-19, with 10% not knowing they contracted the disease.

Spokesperson of the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) Dr. Nazla Rafeeq said on the 26th of November that there were ongoing efforts to identify individuals who have unknowingly contracted Covid-19 and recovered, through an antibody sero surveillance.

She added that sample taking for Maldivians in this survey is completed and is now at the data analysis phase, and that the Rapid Response Team is taking random samples from expatriates for the same survey.

Results from this survey were revealed last night at the media briefing by the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC)’s, where MNU’s Director of Research Dr Raheema Abdul Raheem stated that data collected from the research shows that 10% of the tested individuals were unaware that they had contracted the disease.

“If the population of Male’ is 208,000, then 38,000 people were exposed to Covid-19”, she claimed.

According to Raheema, 58 percent of former Covid19 patients had antibodies reacting to Covid-19, but 42 percent of previously infected individuals do not carry as much antibodies as they should. She also noted that the amount of antibodies present are higher in patients who were admitted to health care facilities and underwent a longer treatment period.

As this study concluded that while 1 out of 11 locals in Male’ have contracted the virus, expats had a lower infection rate at 1 out of 3, Raheema urged locals to take additional precautionary measures since the chances of Maldivians contracting the virus are higher than that of foreign workers.

The study also displayed that the highest numbers of antibodies were found in middle-aged adults, and that senior citizens carried more antibodies than initial estimations by experts.

Health Protection Agency (HPA)’s epidemiologist Dr Ibrahim Afzal stated in the media briefing that the results of the research are predominantly in line with initial assessments ,and thus there would be no amendments made to the current guidelines.

Maldives currently records a total of 13,198 virus cases of which 823 are active cases, in addition to 13,198 recoveries and 47 deaths.