With contacts in thousands, tracing limited to high-risk individuals

People gathered to watch the sunset in Male' City. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

With the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and their contacts, policies have been amended to limit contact tracing to high-risk individuals.

In a press conference by Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) on Thursday night, Aminath Aroosha, a member of the HEOC contact tracing team, said the change to policies was made to improve the speed at which high-risk contacts are identified, and deliver the services they require.

Aroosha said that with the average daily new cases at 1,500, calling all their contacts has become time consuming, resulting in delays in identifying and providing timely services to high-risk contacts.

“Therefore, when conducting contact tracing, we will gather information on high-risk individuals who had contact with positive cases. The purpose of this is to identify high-risk contacts as soon as possible and provide the services they need as soon as possible,” she said.

High-risk individuals are considered individuals above the age of 60 years, children under the age of one-year, pregnant women, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with respiratory distress.

The change is in effect only for the greater Male’ region – the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Maldives. Contact tracing in other islands and resorts will continue in accordance with previous policies.

Aroosha said that people who have contact with positive cases, though they may not fall under the high-risk category, can inform Health Protection Agency (HPA) by calling their hotline number 1676 or via email. People who test positive, can likewise, inform HPA of their contacts.

Maldives has been experiencing a surge in both infection rate and fatalities in recent weeks.

Maldives has 50,802 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2,194 new cases recorded on Thursday. 30,403 patients have since recovered, while 115 have died from complications.

The country currently has 20,276 active cases. 280 of the patients are hospitalized.