The government is seriously failing to manage the coronavirus outbreak, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said on Sunday as he called for a nationwide lockdown. 

In a political speech that was aired from an empty room at the party's headquarters instead of the usual crowded Nationalist Party club, Delia gave a long list of areas that the government was failing on when it came to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

From a lack of medical resources to limited public information campaigns, the government was not delivering on its promises, and was ignoring the Opposition’s offer to help.  

By Sunday morning, the total number of coronavirus cases in Malta had reached 21. 

'War'

Warning that “there will be deaths”, Delia said the country was not prepared. 

“Malta has been through wars, sieges – and survived.  We don’t have enough beds or equipment, but we have courage and mutual respect,” he said.   

Describing the outbreak as “a war” that needs to be fought, Delia said that while a lockdown would likely bring the economy to its knees, the spread of coronavirus across the country would have far worse consequences.  

On Sunday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said Malta was already in a partial lockdown, but that public health experts had advised against a full-blown lockdown at the moment.  

Delia said the PN had been holding daily meetings with economists, strategists, and public health consultants to come up with realistic and tangible solutions, but that the government did not appear open to suggestions.  

As a result, the authorities appeared to be taking decisions that were either ill-advised or too little too late.  
 
The government had only moved to close schools once most schools had already taken the decision to do so. And, to make matters worse, the authorities had not properly informed parents about the risks of having children gather in public spaces. 

“So instead of having children in schools, we had them in supermarkets and playgrounds instead,” Delia said.  

Last week, Delia’s request for a parliamentary debate on what was being done to control the spread of the virus, was shot down by Speaker Anġlu Farrugia.

“I think ours may be the only parliament in the world to have not discussed what the country is doing to manage this problem,” Delia said on Sunday. 

He said the PN had proposed having medicines delivered to the elderly by the Armed Forces if necessary, but the government had shot this down without any consideration for pharmacist.  

Port workers who handle the vital shipments coming to Malta did not have peace of mind that they were safe either, he said.

Delia said the PN had proposed a system that would seen around 50,000 public sector workers, work from home, minimising their contact with the public, but this too had been rejected. 

He said the temporary tax holiday offered to affected business owners was “half-hearted”.  

Delia also took the opportunity to remind listeners of the controversial deal to privatise three state hospitals, saying the 400 beds that were never delivered at St Luke’s hospital would have come in handy at a time like this.  

Meanwhile, hotels and restaurants across the country are closed, employees are being let go and the government has not intervened with any meaningful solutions.    

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