Maldives reports first case of Omicron variant

Tourists at Velana International Airport on July 19, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives recorded its first confirmed case of the Omicron variant on Sunday – as the list of countries where the new and potentially more contagious COVID-19 variant has been found continues to grow. 

The case was confirmed by Health Protection Agency (HPA) in a tweet on Sunday night. 

“We have received confirmation of the 1st case of COVID-19 Omicron variant in Maldives,” tweeted HPA. 

HPA said the case was reported from genomic sequencing conducted on a positive sample of a tourist. 

However, the agency did not say where the tourist traveled from or when they tested positive. 

Omicron, first reported from South Africa on November 24, has been classified by World Health Organization (WHO) as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant Delta variant.  

Maldives imposed new travel restrictions following the emergence of Omicron last week. Entrance of tourists from seven southern African countries - South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini – has been banned, while locals and work-permit holders arriving from the countries are required to quarantine.

No additional travel restrictions have been imposed yet, though cases have also been reported in several European countries that are top source markets for tourist arrivals to Maldives, since then.