No new cases of Meningococcal disease, a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection, have been detected, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed. This announcement follows contact tracing efforts initiated after the recent passing of Maldivian football star Mohamed Arif, aged 38.

Arif reportedly succumbed to complication of Meningococcal disease while receiving treatment at ADK Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) shortly after returning from Saudi Arabia, where he had undertaken the Hajj pilgrimage. HPA’s contact tracing identified 46 individuals who had been in close proximity to the patient, yet none of them contracted the disease, the authority said.

The Health Ministry further clarified that there is no evidence of community spread within the country, negating the need for mass vaccination. The meningitis vaccine is typically administered to pilgrims embarking on the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages and travellers visiting countries with known disease transmission.

World Health Organization (WHO) data reveals that only three Maldivians have contracted Meningococcal disease in the past six years. Arif represents the third case, with the other two reported in 2023.

Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Malé City issued an advisory, noting an uptick in flu cases following the return of Hajj pilgrims.

IGMH also urges individuals to avoid unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities. Additionally, a dedicated flu clinic has been established to address returning pilgrims displaying flu symptoms, while as a precautionary measure, IGMH advises all visitors to wear masks.

The HPA earlier stressed the importance of pre-Hajj vaccination, recommending that pilgrims receive the Meningitis vaccine at least two weeks before their journey to ensure adequate protection.

Meningococcal disease, caused by Neisseria meningitidis, often begins without noticeable symptoms but can lead to severe manifestations, including seizures and coma.