A number of people in isolation because of COVID-19 are yet to receive their quarantine letters despite testing positive for the virus or being in close contact with an infected patient several days before.

Such letters are not only used to establish when a person may leave home but are also needed by employers when informing the health authorities of their employee’s status.

But, over the past weeks, as the number of new infections surged to record highs, the process faced growing delays, with some patients receiving their letters after they completed their quarantine periods. Others, Times of Malta is told, never even received their letters.

Still waiting for a call

A COVID-19 patient whose quarantine period is set to come to an end on Thursday said that not only did she not get a quarantine letter but she has yet to be contacted by the authorities for both contact tracing and to check up on the state of her health.

The patient, Sarah Mcgourty, said she tested positive for the virus after booking a test at a private clinic ahead of a trip back home to Ireland. Despite not having any symptoms, the test result came back positive.

But while the result was communicated to her by the clinic within minutes, Mcgourty is yet to receive a call from the health authorities despite her 14-day quarantine about to end. She has also not been sent any letters.

“I only received a phone call regarding the test I had booked days before,” she said.

“I am quite shocked at how hard the isolation has been.

“I am also slightly worried. What if someone else needs help? I don’t have problems with mental health… I don’t have external worries but the lack of interaction has been hard on me,” she added.

Mcgourty also noted that she does not have official information in hand on what happens next now that her quarantine period is nearing its end.

Times of Malta received similar complaints from people who were contacts of positive persons.

Despite the positive person naming them during contact tracing, they are yet to be contacted by the health authorities despite being in isolation for days.

System heaves under strain of cases

Sources told Times of Malta that the entire process went awry once the number of new cases detected shot up significantly. There is currently a backlog, the sources said, confirming some were receiving letters after completing their quarantine period. This is especially so with contacts who quarantine for just seven days.

It remains unclear how the authorities plan on addressing the situation as, according to the sources, engaging more people to focus solely on contact tracing and reaching out to patients is proving difficult.

“The focus is on the booster and they want to make sure they have enough people available to give out the jab... that is the aim right now,” one source said. 

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