World News

Maldives former president Gayoom tests positive for COVID-19

MALE (Reuters) - The former president of the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said he had tested positive for COVID-19, as the tourist-dependent island nation reports a pick-up in cases since re-opening its borders last month.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19. May Almighty Allah bless me and all other sick people with a speedy recovery and good health,” Gayoom said in a tweet on Tuesday night.

The 81-year-old former president was one of Asia’s longest serving leaders, having ruled the Maldives for 30 years.

According to a family source, the former autocrat was tested for COVID-19 following a medical consultation on Tuesday morning, after he developed a fever on Monday night.

The source said Gayoom is doing well and is expected to be admitted to the newly built Dharumavantha Hospital in the capital, Malé.

Heavily reliant on foreign tourism, the Indian Ocean archipelago lifted a lockdown in the capital in June and opened up its borders for tourists in July.

Since the end of the lockdown in June, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Maldives has tripled, while deaths have risen from five to 28.

The Maldives Health Protection Agency has confirmed a total of 7,047 COVID-19 cases in the country, out of which 2,580 cases are currently active.

Just over 5,000 tourists visited the Maldives in the month to August 15, according to Maldives Immigration, a fraction of last year’s monthly average of more than 100,000.

Reporting by Mohamed Junayd in Male, editing by Alasdair Pal and Lincoln Feast