President to Europe: This could have been avoidable with preemptive action

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih during a press conference at the National Emergency Operations Center on March 25, 2020. (Photo/President's Office)

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Wednesday, said the escalation in COVID-19 cases across the globe could have been avoided if world leaders had taken preemptive action to combat the virus.

Solih, who made his first appearance at a press conference since the emergence of virus cases in Maldives on Wednesday evening, said that only Maldives, Japan and Singapore had managed to properly contain virus cases.

471,862 people have been infected world-wide with the new coronavirus. Among them, 114,711 have recovered while 21,297 have died from complications due to the virus.

Italy has emerged as the new epicenter of the pandemic. 74,386 have been infected with the virus, and 7,503 have died.

Spain’s death toll has exceeded 3,600, while infections in the United States has risen 68,489 and the death toll has risen above 1,000.

The death toll in Iran and France is also above 1,000.

“If we take a look at this situation, it’s evident that Asia and South East Asia had taken preemptive action. And if leading nations had initiated similar action, this wouldn’t have escalated to this level,” said Solih.

He said the escalation in virus cases in Europe and the States was unfortunate, and that the best course of action to overcome the situation was to enhance international cooperation and collaboration.

Explaining that quick action had been proven successful in containing virus cases, he took the example of China, which had been the original epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the strong action taken by China had been successful in controlling virus cases within three months, with Wuhan, now poised to be free from its lockdown.

He said that quick action had also been key to controlling the virus situation in Maldives.

In Maldives, 13 people tested positive for the virus, all of whom are foreign nationals who were either working or vacationing in resorts or safaris.

Eight have since recovered, but continue to be closely monitored in isolation facilities.

Solih said he would maintain the strong measures in place in Maldives, and was hopeful the country would be able to overcome the situation within one month’s time.

“However, given the strong measures in place in Maldives in contrast to other countries, and given the convenience in isolation which the geographical makeup of the country allows, Maldives may be able to overcome this sooner,” he said.

While Maldives may be able to prevent any new virus cases within its borders, overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic will be impossible for as long as other countries continue to struggle with the virus, he said.

Solih urged continued vigilance, warning the consequences of any act of carelessness could be catastrophic.

Solih said that Maldives had launched its COVID-19 combat efforts based on research conducted by a team of technical experts.

“I would say that through the action we have been taking from Day 1, under the counsel of the technical team, we have managed to contain this to a greater extent than any other country,” he said.

Solih said the technical team had an estimate on virus figures for a worst-case scenario in Maldives, and that the government’s efforts were aimed at preventing such a situation.