COVID 19 has without a doubt devastated the fragile economy of the Maldives. Decades of repetitive economic policies to cash in on the nations beautiful islands and beaches with little regulation on maximizing income and nonexistent penalties on tax evasions has made our nation exceedingly dependent on the tourism sector.
Incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his reactionary policies against COVID 19 has allowed the economy disrupting COVID 19 to not only come to our welcoming sunny shores, but taken a hold of the whole nation by its neck. While today Tourism Minister Ali Waheed boasts about how he will not endanger the public for the sake of the resort operators, it is an undeniable truth that he did in fact, endanger the public for the resort operators.
Not only did President Ibrahim Solih, Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Health Minister Abdulla Ameen and Director General of Public Health Maimoona Abu Bakr refused to close the airports following months of criticism by the public who called to close our borders as early as February 2020, they chose to keep operations running up until the first community spread was flagged thereby forcing them to close the airports in a classic Solih reactionary measure.
If we dwell in to the realm of hypotheses, consider an alternative reality where the current ruling executives actually chose public safety and health over the income of a few resort operators. Tourism sector would take a hit but, the rest of the economy would keep going on allowing the public to go on with their lives. Construction, delivery and transportation, import and export businesses and other offices would have been able to continue on had the current government chosen public health over private wealth.
But the blame on the current situation does not solely lie on the too slow too little policies of President Solih. Ruling Party MDP holds a supermajority over the parliament. In fact, they have a stronghold over every single government institution and organizations, why haven’t they done anything to aid the public in this time of struggle?.
Current ruling party holds 65 seats along with an additional 5 seats from the government coalition partners giving them a total 70 out of 87 seats in the parliament. This staggering majority is enough to pass any bill unobstructed to aid the public in this crisis but till date the ruling party MDP with its sizable parliamentary group even has failed to aid the public.
The level of incompetence by the ruling party has even allowed room for conspiracies with the public alleging the ruling party of working to keep the public poor and desperate to keep us relying on the rich elites in a bid to control the public’s outrage. This is only further fuelled when oppositions bills on rent moratoriums and COVID 19 aid bills are rejected by the parliament controlled by the ruling party MDP without any reasoning.
Keeping aside conspiracies, current government and its parliaments indulgence in corruption and embezzlement along with their aimless policies directed to divert public attention without actually solving any critical problems has furthered public outrage at the current government. No amount of PR by the dedicated staff at the President’s Office will now clear President Solih, his cabinet and his party of endangering the public and then abandoning it.
Japan provides USD 8.6 million through IOM Sri Lanka and Maldives
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with relevant ministries of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Government of Maldives (GoM) launched a regional project ‘Strengthening Capacity of Border Control for Responding to Infectious Diseases in Southwest Asia’ on 17 October 2022.
With a fund of USD 8.6 million, provided by the Government of Japan (GoJ), the project intends to strengthen overall border management capacities in Sri Lanka and the Republic of the Maldives to prevent the spread of infectious diseases that would otherwise impede the revitalization of human mobility.
The dramatic reduction in human mobility has been one of the most significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This had major economic and social impacts in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are heavily reliant upon income from international tourism, labour migration and business travel. The border closures and associated restrictions disrupted regular trade exchanges and impacted migration flows, as well as exposed border management agencies and cross-border communities to higher risks of infection.
Speaking on the timeliness of the project, H.E. MIZUKOSHI Hideaki, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka said that “as Sri Lanka has been actively attracting international tourists and expects to see an increase in the number of tourists in the future, strengthening border control capacity to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases and ensure the safety of staff and travellers is a very meaningful initiative that will contribute significantly to economic recovery from the current economic crisis and further economic growth in Sri Lanka, where tourism is one of the main industries.”
The component of the project focusing on Sri Lanka will improve safety and security, and support process efficiency at primary points of entry (PoEs) to ensure more effective preparedness and proactive response to potential public health emergencies due to infectious disease outbreaks.
Designed to enable secure and safe operations at PoEs to augur international travel, boost traveller confidence and prompt a return to pre-pandemic levels of cross-border mobility, the project will address gaps in passenger processing and health screening systems at PoEs through a combination of new technology, infrastructure, procedures, training, and renovation works. This will streamline the management of traveller information, reduce waiting times, implement contactless processes and procedures by border control personnel. The project will also institute infection prevention measures and emergency response modalities and guarantee the safe disposal of potentially hazardous medical waste at PoEs, resulting in a safe environment for staff, travellers and crew while reducing harmful environmental and health impacts. Travellers and other personnel working at the PoEs will be the main beneficiaries of this initiative, aside from the airport and seaport workers and officials.
“Designed on the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, this project is anchored to IOM’s strategy on Migration and Sustainable Development and will support Sri Lanka and the Maldives to respond to future disease outbreaks and health threats,” said Sarat Dash, Chief of Mission to IOM Sri Lanka and the Maldives. He added, “IOM will work closely with its host government partners to harness the development benefits of migration while ensuring a hassle-free and dignified process for international travellers, including the migrant population.”
Could Omicron BA.2.75 sub-variant lead to a new global COVID-19 wave?
A new sub-lineage of the Omicron variant known as BA.2.75, which was first detected in India, has raised concerns among health experts, Indian media reported.
BA.2.75, which is said to be a second generation sub-variant of Omicron BA.2, has an 18 percent growth advantage over other Omicron sub-variants currently circulating in India, The Indian Express reported.
Sub-lineages of Omicron have been the dominant strains circulating across the globe, with new mutations continuously evolving.
BA.2.75 could be behind recent COVID-19 surge in India
BA.2.75 has been detected in about 10 states in India, which has been witnessing a surge in new infections in the last month or so, according to Indian media.
In the last 10 days, the number of new cases in the country has been hovering in the 15,000-19,000 range, while the number in the past few months stayed below 3,000.
Dr. Rajesh Karyakarte, a microbiologist at Pune’s B J Medical College and head of Maharashtra’s genome sequencing effort, and scientists elsewhere in India, have picked up three sub-variants, BA.2.74, BA.2.75, and BA.2.76, as the possible drivers for the current surge, according to The Indian Express.
The three sub-variants have more than nine changes in the spike protein, and are expected to outnumber the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, which were the most common until a few weeks ago, according to Karyakarte’s team.
Besides India, the strain has also been reported by several other countries, including Japan, Germany, the UK, Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, according to data from Nextstrain, an open-source platform of global pathogen genome data.
Does it cause more severe disease?
So far, there is no evidence to suggest that the BA.2.75 leads to a more severe form of infection, although scientists are at a very early stage to know about it.
Evidence on its transmissibility and immune evasiveness is also still preliminary and emerging, according to a statement from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday.
Why are health experts concerned?
While there is not much known about the new strain, health experts have raised concerns about it.
In a series of tweets, Dr. Shay Fleishon from the Central Virology Laboratory at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, said the sub-variant may be “alarming because it may imply a trend to come.”
He explained that in recent months, there has been a trend of second-generation variants based on Omicron sub-lineages BA.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, and BA.5.
He said until now the second-generation variants have only been found in a few cases within one region. But BA.2.75 has spread to multiple regions, the first of its kind to do so.
The BA.2.75 variant has new mutations in the spike protein, of which G446S and R493Q are of particular concern, as they give the variant the ability to evade several antibodies, dnaindia.com reported, citing unnamed experts.
This means it can infect people who have been vaccinated, or have been infected previously, the report said.
Research reveals that the R493Q mutation increases the strain’s ability to attach to ACE2, the protein that the COVID-19 virus uses to enter cells, according to the report.
Chinese experts caution against over-disinfection for COVID-19
Chinese health experts have cautioned against inappropriate disinfection practices to curb the spread of COVID-19, and called for minimizing the impact on people’s regular life when conducting necessary disinfection.
“We should avoid blind or excessive disinfection, and make it targeted. Disinfection is only necessary when the virus transmission can be cut off this way,” said Zhang Liubo, chief disinfection specialist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at a press conference on Friday afternoon.
“If we have multiple methods to block the spread of the virus, we can choose the safest, most effective, economical and convenient one. Disinfection is one of the available options,” he added.
For example, items not touched by the infected people in their homes can be sealed off and left unattended for a period of time, instead of getting disinfectant sprayed on them, according to Zhang.
During the battle against the latest Omicron wave in China, there have been media reports and online complaints about some questionable disinfecting approaches, such as workers in protective gear spraying disinfectant all over someone’s home.
Is indoor disinfection necessary?
In accordance with China’s Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, places and items contaminated by infectious disease pathogens should be strictly disinfected, said Lei Zhenglong, deputy head of the Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control at the National Health Commission.
Disinfection of places that may have been contaminated by the coronavirus, such as the living areas of the infected people, has played an important role in ensuring the safety of the environment, he said.
Zhang further explained that after the infected people were relocated to other places, there might still be living virus on the objects or in the environment that have been contaminated, which need to be sanitized.
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether there still exist living virus in the contaminated environment, because how long the virus can survive on the surfaces of objects is associated with a lot of factors, including the characteristics of the virus, the viral load, the temperature, humidity and the intensity of sunlight in the environment, he said.
Previous studies have shown that the novel coronavirus can live for two to three days on environmental surfaces, and even up to 28 days under certain conditions.
It is also possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, both Chinese and foreign health authorities like the U.S. CDC have said.
Terminal disinfection of the contaminated places can ensure that the environment and the objects are free of living virus. Therefore, indoor disinfection of infected people’s homes is one of the effective measures to prevent against the virus transmission among family members.
Safe and effective disinfection stressed
Although proper disinfection of the contaminated environment is necessary, Lei pointed out that there have been problems in the disinfection practices in some places, like inadequate communication with the affected residents and improper operations.
It’s necessary to strengthen the training of proper disinfection procedures, as well as the supervision of the disinfection process, he said.
When organizing indoor disinfection of someone’s home, local health authorities should strictly follow relative technical specifications and procedures, and keep the residents informed about the whole process, so that they can understand and support the disinfection work, he added.
People should choose safe and effective disinfectants and disinfecting methods, Zhang said, adding that different methods should be adopted for different items and materials.
They should also protect the valuables and minimize the damage to the objects inside some’s home when conducting the disinfection work, he noted.
Manta Air to launch direct fights from Dhaalu Atoll to Bangalore
Bassam named prime suspect in FAM corruption
China releases paper on its position on Palestinian-Israeli conflict
PG: Enough evidence for over 200 charges against Manday
Türkiye to work for permanent truce in Gaza: Erdogan
President Muizzu: Confident new chapter of Maldives-Türkiye relations will broaden cooperation
President Muizzu visit to Dubai for COP summit
Elections Commission grants approval to form Maldives Solidarity Party.
Parliament’s 06th May Terror Attack Report Highlights Defence Minister Mariya Ali Didi’s Negligence.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed revokes support for the current administration in an open letter.
Leaked documents show India refused to withdraw military personnel and helicopters from the Maldives even after their Visa’s expired.
Hiyaa flats- pigeon coops, negative stereotyping and lobbying.
President Abdulla Yameen officially calls for the removal of Indian military personnel in the Maldives.
COVID-19: Racism, Blame Shifting and Politicizing a Pandemic.
News4 days ago
Yameen’s party is called the People’s National Front
Sports4 days ago
Real Madrid beat Cadiz to move top in La Liga
News4 days ago
The President and First Lady depart on an official visit to Türkiye
News4 days ago
Corrections probe Yameen for visiting PNF office
News4 days ago
EC: Difficult to hold parliament election after Ramadan
News5 days ago
Journalism is poised for a golden age of progress and success under President Dr Muizzu’s tenure: Vice President
News6 days ago
President Muizzu makes new appointments to Police Board
World6 days ago
Pakistan confirms making formal request to join BRICS