Malta has received a mixed rating when it comes to how prepared it is for an outbreak such as the new coronavirus.

Research comparing how 195 countries are preventing and reacting to deadly diseases put Malta at number 98.

The study – called the Global Health Security Index – is made up of 140 questions in six categories to assess how a nation prevents and mitigates epidemics and pandemics.

It was published in October 2019 – before the coronavirus outbreak – but is seen as a relevant measure of how countries would fare in the case of an epidemic or pandemic.

The US, Australia and the UK were among those listed as being ‘most prepared’ while Malta ranked alongside the likes of Italy, Russia and Spain as being ‘more prepared’. Countries which ranked in the ‘least prepared’ category were mainly in Africa or in the Middle East.

The average score is 40.2 out of a possible 100. Malta received an overall rating of 37.3.

The country scored very close to average when it came to ‘prevention’ and ‘compliance with international norms’. It scored much higher (72.3) than the average (55) when it came to risk, which included the sub-categories of ‘socio-economic resilience’ and ‘public health vulnerabilities’.

However, it didn’t fare so well when it came to the ‘rapid response’ category, getting a score of 22.4 with the average being 38.4.

Out of seven sub-categories within this section, Malta received a 0 when it came to ‘emergency preparedness and response planning’, ‘exercising response plans’, ‘emergency response operation’, ‘linking public health and security authorities’ and ‘risk communication’.

Malta did score a 100 in the sub-categories of ‘trade and travel restrictions’ and ‘cross-border agreements on public and animal health emergency response’, almost doubling the average score of 54.4.

When compared to other high-income countries, Malta was among the 116 which did not score above 50.

Overall, the GHS Index found that no country was fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics and, collectively, international readiness was weak.

The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security (JHU). It was funded by several organisations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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