On 20th January, the Maldives welcomed the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines extended by the Indian government. This shipment consisted of 100k doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India, an intramuscular injection which will be sufficient to inoculate 50k people; two-doses each which must be administered in between a gap of 4 to 12 weeks. The COVISHIELD vaccine shows an efficiency between 90% to 62% and has been approved for emergency use by the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA).
The island nation kicked off its vaccination drive on 1st February. The initial phase of the immunizations program prioritizes essential health and social care workers, individuals considered as high-risk, the elderly and frontline essential workers including frontline those engaging in the tourism industry (those who directly interact with tourists). Accordingly, the Minister of Tourism, Dr. Abdulla Mausom, confirmed yesterday that 10k vaccine doses have been allocated for such persons. Vaccination for tourism sector employees will commence on 4th February.
In addition to registering on the Health Protection Agency’s online portal my.health.mv. for vaccination, the Ministry of Tourism has also requested to submit details of frontline employees to them to enhance the effort, before 9th February. The details of the information they are requiring and how to send them can be found in this Circular from the Ministry.
The Maldivian economy is heavily reliant on tourism for stability. Whilst the goal for this year still remains to draw at least 1.5 million tourists to Maldives, the recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases are likely to hinder the achievement of this. At present 620 tourist establishments are in operation across the country.