The Medical Association of Malta has joined the chorus of disapproval at Prime Minister Robert Abela’s decision to reopen the tourist season, saying it did not have the necessary scientific basis and went contrary to the advice of public health experts.
In a statement, the doctors’ union said that with three deaths last week, there was still local community transmission and this was likely to get worse once the tourist season opens.
Numbers last week were low because the public has shown great discipline and responsibility despite statements to the contrary by politicians, the doctors said. So far, 618 people had tested positive.
They quoted a Sunday Times survey which found that people were trusting the medical profession more than politicians. It found that Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci is by far the most trusted of the public officials providing updates and information on the COVID-19 outbreak.
The survey found that 92% of the Maltese trust Gauci to deliver reliable and accurate information on the virus and how to contain it.
“Rushing to reverse the measures which have kept the virus in check, places additional risk to health, undermines public confidence and may be counterproductive to the economic recovery. The removal of fines for breaching quarantine, or social distancing rules is not what is expected of a responsible government. MAM believes in the rule of law and no politician should undermine the work of the police, of state prosecutors and the judiciary on any offence. There should be no rewards for those who are reckless and put other people’s lives at risk,” the doctors’ union said.
They held that the removal of rules rendered ineffective the tens of thousands of tests being done and makes contact tracing and isolation of cases very difficult, which can lead to greater spread of the disease.
“Public health specialists in Malta have done a great job at controlling COVID-19 and deviations recommended by politicians represent an unnecessary gamble with lives of the Maltese,” MAM said in its statement.
On Sunday, Healthcare professionals called on the Prime Minister to publish the strategy and risk assessment he is following on the lifting of measures.
In an open letter to Robert Abela, the Malta Association of Public Health Medicine said it was clear that his announcement of the premature lifting of measures was a unilateral decision, contrary to current evidence-based public health advice and to the advice of the Superintendence of Public Health.
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