Malta is currently experiencing the highest rate of new infections since the start of the pandemic. Three weeks have passed since the Public Health Authorities made recommendations to the Government on measures which could curb this resurgence. They seem to have fallen on deaf ears. This leads us to believe that other interests are more important than preventing contagion and mortality. Since then, the number of deaths has nearly tripled. We have had a record number of new cases (563 new cases in the last 7 days), and the rate of new infections continues to rise, matching and exceeding levels of other European countries. If our advice had been heeded, as it was in April, we would not be in this situation.
We now have the highest number of COVID-19 patients in ITU since the start of the pandemic, several of them under the age of 60. Many dozens of people are hospitalised, with several who are young and were completely healthy before getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. 44 people have already died from this virus. Mater Dei Hospital is opening its 3rd ITU as part of the contingency plan. Operations are being cancelled due to lack of capacity. The Laboratory is running the highest number of tests daily since the start of the pandemic. We are having outbreaks in nursing homes, workplaces, families, and gatherings. Soon schools will be added to this list. Thousands of people are in mandatory quarantine.
Case Management and Contact Tracing within the Public Health Response Team are overwhelmed and are not coping with the large numbers of positive cases each day, resulting in containment measures which are not as effective as they were before. This is the first and last line of defence for Mater Dei Hospital. If public health measures are not re-introduced soon, the death rate will continue to rise and many of our loved ones will not make it through this Winter.
Given the Government’s inaction and lack of responsibility, it is up to each one of us individually to try and make a difference to at least protect ourselves and our loved ones.
- Always wear a mask. Wear your masks everywhere (covering nose and mouth) and as soon as you go out of your house.
- When visiting relatives, don’t hug, don’t kiss. Spend the least amount of time possible, preferably outdoors and keep your distance. Always keep your masks on. Never mix more than 2 households at a time. If you can video chat instead, do so.
- If it is possible to telework, do not go to the office and work from home. If you are an employer – facilitate this.
- Use e-Learning at every opportunity.
- Choose where you eat. Cooking yourself or home delivery are the safest options otherwise outside dining is better than indoors and ensure COVID mitigation measures are in place at the food outlet.
- Use online shopping wherever possible.
- Avoid crowds. Keep your distance from others.
- It is not the time to organise social events for Halloween or Christmas.
- Training alone and outdoors is preferable to a team sport.
- Avoid non-essential activities such as going to cinemas, bars, cafeterias, pools, and gyms
- Take the influenza vaccine.
- Queue properly, respect others, and keep your mask on.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and if not available, use alcohol-based hand disinfectant.
- Don’t touch your face or your mouth unnecessarily.
- If you are sick, don’t go out and call a doctor or 111 as appropriate.
In summary, the situation is at its worst since the start of the pandemic. The health services are stretched to their limit and everything is indicating that it is going to get much worse, quickly.
- Unless strict preventive action is taken now, the daily number of new cases and people in quarantine is going to continue rising fast
- With increasing rates of infection, the number of people who get very sick and require hospitalisation will increase
- Hospitals will trigger contingency plans, but at a certain point they will not be able to cope anymore
- The mortality rate will increase further
We implore those in power to take the right decisions now and implement targeted measures which will slow down transmission by limiting those activities where the largest clusters are being reported. Ironically the blow on the economy will be greater the longer it takes for the government to start implementing measures needed to control the current situation.
Let us prioritise the health of our population, the education of our children, and the lives of our loved ones and bring this spread under control.