In the wake of growing concerns over the spread of the new Covid Omicron variant, the Maldives recorded its first case of the Omicron variant on Tuesday.

The Maldives Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed that it has detected the Omicron virus after performing genomic sequencing on samples taken from a tourist from South Africa who arrived in the country on November 27.

Following the discovery of the Omicron variant, the Maldivian government banned travel to the Maldives from South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.

He also informed that Maldivian citizens and work permit holders from these countries must undergo PCR tests and quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

According to the latest HPA figures, a total of 92,368 active cases of Covid-19 have been detected in the country, of which 1,796 are active cases. The country has so far recorded 255 deaths from the virus.

A total of 364,691 people in the Maldives received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 15,850 people received a booster.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization on Monday advised against using the blood plasma of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 to treat those who are sick, saying current evidence shows it does not improve survival or reduce the need for ventilators. The method is also expensive and time-consuming to administer, the WHO said in a statement on Monday.

The hypothesis for using plasma is that the antibodies it contains could neutralize the new coronavirus, prevent it from replicating and stop tissue damage. Several studies testing convalescent blood plasma have shown no apparent benefit for treating patients with Covid-19 who are critically ill.

As it is suspected that the risk of reinfection may be higher with the Omicron variant, survivors of previous infection with the virus that causes Covid-19, known as SARS-CoV-2, may be more at risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant than with earlier versions of the virus, according to preliminary results.

In South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, researchers looked at data on nearly 2.8 million infections and found that while the risk of a first infection increased when the beta and delta variants were spreading during the second and third waves of the pandemic, the risk of recurrence of infection was low and has not changed.

But last month, as Omicron spread, the daily number of reinfections increased, the researchers reported on the medRxiv website ahead of the peer review on Thursday. Survivors’ risk of reinfection may increase faster than an average person’s risk for a first infection, they said. The researchers said the timing of the increase in reinfections “strongly suggests that they are driven by the emergence of the Omicron variant.”

(With agency contributions)

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