Doctors on Sunday reiterated their call to the government to stop flights from northern Italy.

In a statement, they pointed out that the Italian government had now declared the Lombardy region and 14 provinces in northern Italy as a quarantine zone, where people were forbidden to travel unless they received special permission to do so.

This, the Medical Association of Malta said, was done because the situation in Italy was grievous with the epidemic spreading like wildfire, with hundreds of deaths and intensive care admissions. Italy was moving to the situation already seen in China where the only remedy was a complete lockdown.

It was clear that the Italian authorities, just like China, failed to stop the epidemic with their soft approach and have now changed to lockdown approach, doctors said

They said that the World Health Organisation’s failure to recommend travel bans resulted in a global pandemic.

Singapore and Hong Kong introduced travel bans from mainland China and quickly controlled the epidemic.

Malta on Saturday registered its first three cases of the virus - a 12-year-old girl and her parents who had been in Italy.

The three cases in Malta, they said, were the result of a family who travelled to northern Italy despite the advice not to do so. While this family was lucky to get mild illness, not everybody would be so. They created a grave risk for the half a million inhabitants of the Maltese islands.

Yet, incredibly, daily flights to Malta from the lockdown areas in Italy continued unabathed, with two more flights due on Sunday. 

The medical advice of all the consultants in the department of medicine at Mater Dei a week ago was for a ban. All trade unions and social partners with the exception of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association also insisted the flights must stop.

MAM said it again appealed to the government to stop all flights from northern Italy with immediate effect, and to order a mandatory quarantine for flights from other cities in Italy. 

“The soft approach is a proven failure, let us protect our country and not have to go into lockdown after thousands get sick,” they said.

Failing this it was ready to take whatever measures were necessary to protect its members and the public.

The call was later on Sunday supported by the Chamber of Pharmacists.


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