Opinions

Is Malta prepared for a Coronavirus Outbreak?

The coronavirus is on everyone’s mouth. The recent rapid spread of this virus has led to significant anxiety and stress as many countries have now become affected. This virus is no longer a problem of one country or region but has slowly developed into a global issue. Recent reports have highlighted our neighbouring country, Italy, which is enduring a torrid time in managing the outbreak. At the time this article was written, six hundred and fifty people in Italy were infected, with seventeen total deaths.

Considering that this virus has spread rapidly from Wuhan China to Europe in just a few weeks, one would anticipate that it is only a matter of days before the first cases of coronavirus are announced in Malta.

Do you think that Malta is prepared to fight this virus when it hits us?

Let’s start off with a bit of context. Malta is very popular amongst travellers from every part of the world. This obviously underlines that Malta greets several foreigners from a wide range of different countries. So how are we controlling and monitoring whoever comes in?

Upon arrival, people are screened for fever, which is one of the main symptoms of the coronavirus. Whilst it is good that we are performing some form of screening, many would argue that this is not an efficient means to control the spread. Imagine someone takes two Panadols just before boarding a flight. The fever would subside, and the virus would not be identifiable, enabling easy access even if one is infected.

Nurses criticise coronavirus contingency plans

A concerning news report highlighted that nurses are not pleased with the contingency plans, citing that only fourteen beds are available for coronavirus patients. When seeing the number of infected people abroad, these extend to the hundreds.

It was also said that the statement made by the health authorities that three hundred and fifty nurses have been given training to deal with the coronavirus is inaccurate. The union of nurses also underlined that Malta is not prepared because it does not have another isolation unit outside of Mater Dei, which reflects a lack of contingency. Another problem which was outlined is that nurses were not allowed to wear facemasks and issues were also raised regarding the protective equipment made available to such workers in healthcare.

This reaction came just a day after the assuring message from the health authorities that measures were being taken to address a potential outbreak.

People are panic buying

Over the past days, people have swarmed supermarkets buying essential long-life items in case of a lock-down. It would be folly to imagine that this is a long mile scenario. In Italy, a lock-down already took place, so although it would be surreal, it is still a possibility.

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