1. President Tests Positive For Covid
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih tested positive for Covid-19 upon taking a PCR test before a campaign trip. “I’m doing well with the grace of God. At the moment I’m at home in isolation,” he announced on Saturday (22 January).
Fellow South Asian heads of government, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, expressed wishes for his speedy recovery. “Our best wishes are with you and the people of Maldives in successfully overcoming the challenges of COVID. India will continue to extend full support to your efforts,” Modi tweeted.
A day after the president, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Yumna Maumoon announced that she has covid with symptoms of fever, sore throat and body aches. She reported feeling better the next day. “The hardest thing is to not be able to be with my daughters, husband, parents and family,” she added.
2. Policy Shifts From Restrictions To ‘Learning To Live With The Virus’
The new Covid-19 mitigation policy is “learning to live with the virus,” the Health Protection Agency said on Sunday, signalling an end to harsh restrictions despite a surge driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
“Either way, we cannot stay in an emergency situation even if [the pandemic] is prolonged by three or four years,” HPA Epidemiologist Dr Ibrahim Afzal explained at a press briefing. The authorities are trying to encourage compliance with safety guidelines as much as possible without disrupting economic activity or public life, he added. Lockdowns and border closures were needed at the start of the pandemic because no country was prepared and very little was known about the novel coronavirus, the country’s chief epidemiologist noted.
Several European countries have shifted their approach to treating the coronavirus more like the seasonal flu.
What’s New: Test centres began using the rapid antigen test for the first time on Sunday. But a negative PCR test result is still needed for travel between islands.
Situation Update: Since the Omicron variant was first detected in the Maldives in early December, 74 cases have been confirmed from samples sent for genomic sequencing, Dr Afzal revealed. Of 100 samples sent on 11 January, 50 tested positive for Omicron, which shows “the speed with which Omicron is spreading and overtaking other strains.” Projections indicate that cases could reach 6,000 a day. The seven-day average stood at more than 2,500 cases at the end of last week. The number of people in hospital increased from 23 patients on 15 January to 49 patients last week, including four on ventilators. A dozen Covid-19 deaths have been recorded so far in January.
3. Defence Minister Dismisses Allegations About Son’s UK House
Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi dismissed allegations about her son purchasing a £1.5 million house in the UK with “illicit money” as a smear attempt ahead of the upcoming by-election.
“It’s sad that the work and income of my 40-year-old son who is a lawyer in England is tied to this government and is made a headline in connection to elections,” she tweeted on Tuesday with a screenshot of a message from a journalist with Dhiyares, an opposition-aligned outlet that government officials accuse of publishing “100% fake news.” In her reply to the request for a comment, Mariya asked the journalist to file a case for investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Her son has never held a government post or job under any Maldivian Democratic Party administration, she stressed.