A failing contact tracing system and lax enforcement is leading COVID-19 cases to spiral out of control, the Nationalist Party said on Tuesday. 

Addressing a press conference, Opposition health spokesman Stephen Spiteri said that if action was not taken by the authorities soon, the healthcare system could collapse under the pressure of the coronavirus spread.

Malta registered an all-time high of new COVID-19 cases, with 336 confirmed in the last 24 hours. 

Authorities also announced the death of three people, increasing the death toll to 319.

Spiteri shied away from calling for increased restrictive measures when asked by reporters, instead saying that if the current rules were followed and enforced, the situation would not have escalated this far. 

“It is not right that we have a portion of society respecting the rules and another which is not. This is further compounded by enforcement that is not being taken seriously and a system of contact tracing which is failing,” he said. 

Quoting Prime Minister Robert Abela, Spiteri said figures today were not reflecting his pledges made by the government of a swift return to normality

He also raised concerns on the country’s healthcare system. 

The matter had been discussed in the PN’s parliamentary group, following consultation with experts and the party had come up with a common position. 

First off, the PN believes in the need for more screening at entry points to the country - to limit the spread of new variants of the contagious virus. 

Rapid tests should also be used as a form of screening, Spiteri said, to get a better idea of the real situation on the island. 

Contact tracing, he said, needs to become more efficient. The government ought to dedicate more resources as the system was not keeping up with documenting the spread. 

Spiteri said he had first-hand experience of this as a doctor. He said he had recently received a call from a patient who had been in quarantine for some two weeks simply because of a confirmed case in school. 

Spiteri said the country needs a working “test and trace mechanism” that drives information faster. 

Situation in schools 'point of concern'

Education spokesman Clyde Puli also addressed the press conference, saying the situation in schools was also a point of concern. 

Schools, he said, have made an extraordinary effort to keep operating through the pandemic, despite a lack of leadership from the authorities. 

Puli said the government has shown a reluctance to enforce its own rules and although the reopening of schools last year was meant to pave the way to normality, this did not seem to be going according to plan. 

He said there is an ever-increasing number of children in quarantine. 

Puli asked whether the authorities had a plan for how to tackle end of year exams. 

What is the government planning to do should numbers continue rising, he asked.

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