Maldives confirms over 5 COVID-19 variants, including Alpha, Delta

Rapid Response Team (RRT) operates in the streets of Male' City to conduct coronavirus tests on February 3, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) has confirmed the spread of over five COVID-19 variants in Maldives, including the Alpha variant – first discovered in the United Kingdom, and the Delta variant – first discovered in India.

In a press conference on Tuesday evening, HEOC spokesperson and epidemiologist Dr. Nazla Rafeeg said they have received the results of the third batch of samples sent overseas for sequencing.

Nazla said that the results show the highest number of samples to be positive for the Delta variant.

27 percent of the samples tested positive for the Delta variant, 20 percent for Alpha variant, and 13 percent for G variant.

The results confirm the existence of the variants Delta, Alpha, G, GR, and Sub Lineage (Peru/Chile) in Maldives. Meanwhile, the remaining 27 percent were other variants.

Nazla said the samples sent for sequencing include swabs taken from both locals and foreigners, and noted that with global travel, there will always be a risk of new variants from across the world getting imported to Maldives.

She said that HEOC plans on sending more samples for sequencing, and are working on increasing the number samples that can be sent for sequencing. Samples for sequencing are currently sent in batches of 30 samples.

The Delta variant originally discovered in India is found to be more contagious and more likely to require hospitalization.

Maldives experienced an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in April and May, resulting in a devastating rise in fatalities. Last May saw the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in a single month, with 88 deaths. While Infection rates have begun dropping with the implementation of new restrictive measures in May, fatalities continue to be worrying. Maldives recorded its youngest COVID-19 fatality – a 10-year-old girl – and the first maternal death related to COVID-19 – a 25-year-old woman – this June.