Authorities to conduct random sampling while easing lockdown
National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) revealed on Tuesday night that authorities will conduct random sampling in the upcoming weeks to determine the level of community spread while lockdown restrictions are lifted in phases.
Speaking at NEOC's nightly press briefing Health Protection Agency's (HPA) Epidemiologist Dr Ibrahim Afzal stated that samples will be collected from five identified high-risk groups, including frontline workers, correctional officers, senior citizens, those living in congested communal living situations and those aged between 20 to 39.
Noting that random sampling will follow a similar procedure to the tests conducted daily, Dr Afzal stated that that PCR testing will be carried out for each sample, and positive cases will be isolated and placed in treatment facilities.
"We will also conduct contact tracing for positive cases", he added.
Dr Afzal also explained that the transition from one phase of lockdown to the next will depend on the results of the random sampling carried out to determine the level of community spread.
"Therefore, I request everyone to please cooperate with the authorities in this matter".
He further noted that the sample collection process will be repeated every 14 days while lockdown restrictions are lifted.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced on May 21 that lockdown measures currently in place will be reversed in phases, with the first phase will involve easing domestic travel restrictions, along with measures to ease the operation of private businesses.
The government will also reopen its national airport, Velana International Airport in July, with a plan to kickstart the economy by resuming operations in the tourism industry.
Maldives currently records a total of 1,942 cases, out of which 922 are active cases of COVID-19. The country records 1,010 recoveries and eight deaths.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives' capital Malé recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the first week following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15. However, the number of recoveries recorded daily are now higher than the number of newly identified positive cases.
WHO has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 7.2 million people and claimed over 411,000 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 3.5 million people have recovered.