Some 118,000 people are expected to go into lockdown as of Saturday yet many are still unsure of what they can and cannot do.

Others do not even know whether they are part of the group going into lockdown. 

The health authorities announced on Thursday evening that 118,000 individuals will no longer be able to leave their house as of Saturday. This includes those over the age of 65, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions. People living with them must also go into lockdown. 

But while establishing whether a person is over 65 or pregnant is relatively straightforward, those with medical conditions are still trying to figure out whether they fall in the "vulnerable people" category or not. 

According to the health authorities, the order applies for all those who are insulin dependant, those on biological medication, those who received chemotherapy in the past six months, had a transplant or HIV treatment, those who are on dialysis, those who have been treated for respiratory disease in the past year, those who had cardiac problems in the past six months and those on oral steroids. 

All affected people under 65 who fall under this category will be notified by post.

Fact sheet to be issued

It remains unclear whether, for instance, those who received treatment at a health care centre in recent months, as opposed to a hospital, will also have to go into lockdown. 

One issue that is worrying a lot of Times of Malta readers is their pets. Can people leave the house to walk their pets? According to the information supplied on Thursday, this will not be possible as people are only allowed to leave the house for medical appointments. Some not going into lockdown have already offered to walk neighbours' dogs, posting on social media for their neighbours to get in touch.

Times of Malta has reached out to the health authorities to try and shed some light on these issues however a government spokesperson could not provide such details. 

Instead, the spokesperson said a factsheet with more information will be published “soon”.

Elderly concerns

Carmel Mallia, president of the Alliance of Pensioners’ Organisations, said the lockdown was a “necessary evil” but more information and support was needed.

“This is important for our health. Nobody wants to die. However, now that the authorities told us to stay home, they need to provide the necessary support. There are specific needs that are unfolding,” he said.

“If food is going to be delivered, it can’t take a week to arrive. Keep in mind that many pensioners can’t afford to stock up on food,” he said.

Mallia, 82, said that more information was needed as to what pensioners should do in certain cases that included: can they leave the house for medical emergencies? What about those who did not have cash at home and did not know how to use internet banking?

He was worried this could open up windows for abuse, with elderly trusting their bank details with strangers.  

He was also concerned about the psychological impact of the lockdown and the loneliness this would bring about, especially since there was no clear end in sight. He was concerned that this would impact pensions, leading to future cuts as the country faces a struggling economy. 

Philip Chircop, president of Fondazzjoni Nanniet Malta, agreed that the lockdown was necessary to safeguard the health of the elderly. He too appealed for clearer information and was concerned about the mental health aspect. 


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