What’s happening in Maldives?

DISCLAIMER: Matters as well as events and dates are subjected to change which include those that are mentioned in this article. New developments have been implemented following the situation of the COVID-19 in Maldives.

Ever wondered what is happening at the sunny side of life during COVID-19 pandemic?

Well, it is worth noting that the Maldives is faring very well because of the initiatives shown by the government during such unprecedented time. The government managed to keep the quantity of those who are infected to lower than 30 cases through strict screening and testings despite the country lacks in clinical and medical assets. I was actually worried that the current government (very left-winged, liberal and spot incredible accentuation on freedom and uniformity) will be excessively delicate on the circumstance; bringing about delayed decisions that are not severe or powerful enough to keep the ticking time bomb of COVID-19 from detonating. Notwithstanding, they took intense measures that were essential for keeping the public safe. The wellbeing of the individuals was prioritized over the economy as they settled on striking choices, for example, prohibiting most travelers flying in, even though travel and tourism is the largest economic industry in Maldives.

From what I have heard, the government took on extreme measures to even prohibit a program on Channel 13 as they were spreading bogus data about the infection and the use of language that they use to address such issues. This move caught me off guard as it was remarkable; one that isn’t much similar to the methods of reasoning resounded for the yellow fevers in Maldives. Nonetheless, it made me solidly accepted that the current government immovably holds the rules of the circumstance. Obviously, as a matter of fact, there is to such an extent that an administration can do to tame such a pandemic. However, doctors say the threat of the pandemic is still high in the Maldives.

There has been a State of Public Health Emergency declared in Maldives since 12th March 2020 and travel restrictions have been imposed to countries with high risk of the COVID-19 virus. Now, there is a curfew from 5pm-8pm in Male’, Villimale’ and Hulhumale’ until further notice. This was imposed as a part of government’s efforts to curb the coronavirus spread. During this time, people are highly recommended to stay home, practice more social distancing and practice good personal hygiene. Also, gatherings of more than three people are banned at all times.

Sinamale’ Bridge during the curfew hours. Source: Vaguthu.mv

But, how many are abiding by the measures and rules given by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the government? After seeing the social media platforms of most Maldivians, it was seen that they are doing the opposite of what the government have advised them to do. There is less social distancing being practiced at homes and in public places. People are still going out and about for the whole day especially pass curfew times, but these people who violate the curfew restrictions are fined. It has been noted that the moment the curfew comes to an end, many people will venture out at once which might lead to another frightening outbreak. Islanders have been going to picnics in the nearby islands and going to fishing trips in large groups. Children were seen at the parks playing instead of being at home have something to do with the negligence from the parents. Some even sneaked out of their homes to attend birthday parties held at their relative’s or friend’s place. The use of face masks in the public have also been a debate among the Maldivians because of the issues surrounding the wearing of face masks.

In my opinion, for the Maldivians, the COVID-19 pandemic is just another news headline. They are not taking this pandemic seriously. They should be glad that it is not a 24-hour lockdown as the curfew times should be taken as an opportunity to get protection from the illness. People refusing to stay at home and practice social distancing reminds me of the reckless and carefree society that we live in. There is no doubt that it is difficult to stay home every day without going out for multitude of reasons. Some might feel that being made to stay home is like taking away their freedom and individual rights and in the end always blame the government for whatever mishap that happens in the country or to them. However, when it comes down to the greater good of the society, one should be willing to sacrifice their freedom always. A balance between individual rights and public safety is an everchanging thing. Maldivians need to understand that being careless and ignoring the symptoms of the virus might put the whole country at risk.

An empty street during the curfew hours in Male’ city. Source: Vaguthu.mv

What we need during this emergency for any country is a government and a leader who rushes to act, very much informed and places assurance for every individual regardless of anything else. There are several things that we might be able to gain and follow from different nations on what they have done as well chose to not do. Most importantly, we must educate ourselves and act responsibly, for the good of us and everyone in the society. It is because health and safety should come first to make sure that we are able to maintain and endure this difficulty together.

Written by Fathimath Eemaau Mohamed

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the position of UNM IGNITE.