HPA: Rapid antigen test cannot be used for domestic travel

People board ferries to travel out of Male' City ahead of the Eid al-Adha holidays on July 16, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Health Protection Agency (HPA) states results of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests aren't acceptable for domestic travel. 

Maldives had previously used PCR testing for COVID-19. However, HPA began rapid antigen testing, where results are available within 15-30 minutes, last Monday. 

HPA’s guidelines dictates that proof of a negative PCR test taken maximum 72 hours prior to departure is required for domestic travel. 

Commissioner of Quality Assurance, Thasleema Usman told Sun on Tuesday that despite the start of rapid antigen testing, domestic travel still requires PCR testing – which is more accurate. 

“Rapid antigen test is not suitable for use when travelling from one island to the other,” she said. 

Thasleema said that while rapid antigen tests usually detect positive cases only if the patient is symptomatic, there’s greater probability of PCR tests detecting the virus, symptomatic or asymptomatic. 

Maldives is battling a nation-wide surge in COVID-19 cases, fueled by the new Omicron variant. The sample positivity rate in the capital, which stood at three percent at the end of last year, has now risen to 33 percent.

Health experts expect the cases to peak by the end of January or beginning of February. 

Maldives has 120,168 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2,707 new cases on Monday. 104, 164 patients have recovered, while 270 have died from complications. 

The country currently has 15,721 active cases.