Malta should be under a complete lockdown for at least three weeks to fight coronavirus spread, doctors and trade unions have said.

The Medical Association of Malta, said current measures including a flight ban on five countries, quarantine for all arrivals and the closure of schools, were not enough.

Its call for a lockdown is supported by the General Workers Union, the UHM Voice of the Workers and Forums Union Maltin, who met with Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar on Friday.

Under a proposed lockdown the airport and ports would be shut to arrivals, except for the repatriation of Maltese and only employees providing essential services should be allowed to work from outside the home. 

While Balzan commended the new travel restrictions announced by the government on Friday, he said the Italian and Chinese experience of COVID-19 shows us that half-measures, although well-intentioned, do not work.

“If we do not take these measures now, we are very likely to have to take them anyway soon, with the risk of overwhelming our health service and our capacity to respond to the crisis,” he said.

“Other countries have only managed to control this disease by implementing such strict measures early on. China managed to control the local epidemic within a period of 3 weeks and have now issued a travel ban to Europe to avoid import cases such has been the success of these measures,” he continued.

Under the proposed complete lockdown, only employees providing emergency services such as Mater Dei and health centres, power stations, water services and other essential infrastructures would be allowed to continue working.

Other residents would only be allowed to leave their homes to buy essential items.

All shops, restaurants and places of entertainment would be closed except for pharmacies, supermarkets, groceries and food retail outlets.  

All schools and universities should also remain closed.

In addition, the airport and ports would be closed to visitors and only open for the repatriation of Malta residents stranded abroad. 

Any repatriations of local residents need to be followed by a strict, mandatory quarantine period of two weeks.  

No residents in Malta would be allowed to travel outside the country without permission from the health authority.

Transport of goods and cargo however would continue unaffected. 

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