MALE, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Maldives government on Thursday declared a state of public health emergency for the first time in its history in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, state-owned Public Service Media reported.
The announcement was made by Health Minister Abdulla Ameen who holds discretionary powers to declare such emergencies under Maldives' Public Health Act.
The state of public health emergency is to last 30 days starting March 12.
Maldives has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has set up a quarantine centre at a tourist resort on the northern Lhaviyani Atoll.
The state of public health emergency grants the Director General of Public Health special powers to take precautionary measures such as quarantining individuals suspected of carrying an infectious disease.
Ameen assured the public that countering the spread of COVID-19 was the main priority of the government and that international standards set by the World Health Organisation would be followed.
Government officials were directed to follow guidelines set by technical professionals and to curb the spread of misinformation.