Updated 11.25am

Mater Dei Hospital and the health authorities are taking the necessary measures to handle an increase in the number of emergency admissions as happens every winter, but more so because of COVID-19, a health ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

The actions include increasing bed capacity at Mater Dei and opening bed capacity at Boffa Hospital as well as 'measures normally taken during such periods'. 

The comment was made after the doctors' union warned that the current COVID-19 situation is not sustainable and there will come a point, if no action is taken, when Mater Dei Hospital will not have enough beds to manage the pandemic.

Martin Balzan, president of the Medical Association of Malta told Times of Malta.  that the association was in touch with the hospital administration earlier this week, urging it to introduce new measures to help mitigate the pressure.

He said that around 10 new COVID patients were being admitted to Mater Dei Hospital every day, while the figure for discharged patients was significantly lower.

On Wednesday, there were 47 patients being treated for the virus at the state hospital, four of whom were in the Intensive Treatment Unit. The number of daily COVID-19 cases rose by well over 100 between Tuesday and Wednesday.

While the country has seen admission figures like this before, Balzan warned that this winter has proven to be particularly cold and the seasonal pressures on the hospital have been particularly rough.

“To make matters worse, we now have this spike in coronavirus cases,” Balzan said.

“Our projections show that, unless something is done, the hospital won’t cope for much longer at this rate.”

Among the measures proposed by the doctors’ association is the suspension of elective procedures and the assignment of COVID beds in private hospitals. 

When COVID cases were high last year, the number of virus cases in hospital had gone above 200, but other medical units were then in operation to deal with the surge.

The MUMN on Wednesday said the situation at the hospital had become “very serious”, especially when coupled with the flu and other medical conditions.

Claiming all beds in hospital were full, it called for effective measures for the country to fight the rapid rise in viral cases, including the postponement of non-urgent surgeries and closure of bars.

Meanwhile, public health consultant Tanya Melillo, who heads the Public Health Response Team, on Wednesday  added her voice to the chorus, telling Newsbook that the rising COVID-19 hospitalisations were driving Mater Dei to “breaking point”.

She urged people to abide by restrictions, cancel travel plans and isolate from their family at the least sign of symptoms.

Melillo warned that new cases would rise even higher in the coming days, and they would not go down any time soon, “definitely not till the end of the year”.

People, she said, are meeting in large numbers and ignoring restrictions, and do not always cooperate when they are contacted to quarantine.  

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