Updated with Chris Fearne's reaction at 3pm

Nationalise private hospitals in preparation for a surge in Covid-19 cases in Malta, Civil Society Network is urging the government.

This would be a temporary measure to support medical professionals dealing with the outbreak, whom CSN believes should be provided with four- and five-star accommodation away from their relatives.

Asked for his reaction, Fearne said private hospitals and practitioners were providing services to the state for the sake of the nation’s wellbeing.

“We are working well with private hospitals, including St Thomas Hospital in Qormi and Steward Healthcare in Gozo, and we are in discussion with other private hospitals that could provide the state with it services,” Fearne said.

Earlier, CSN said that other countries, such as Spain, had already taken such measures. It has been reported that the Spanish government has nationalised all hospitals and healthcare providers as it fights the spread of the virus.

On Friday, doctor and former PD leader Anthony Buttigieg called for the requisition of St Luke's Hospital, putting its 800-bed capacity to good use. 

The hospital is currently vacant, and Steward Global Healthcare have the keys. It took over the concession to run the Gozo, St Luke’s and Karin Grech hospitals in 2017 after the previous concessionaire, Vitals Global Healthcare, failed to deliver on its contractual commitments.

On Sunday CSN thanked medical professionals for their “hard and selfless work”.

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They not only deserved praise, but all the support they could get, no matter the cost, the network said.

“There is no reason why the government shouldn’t be providing them with paid-for accommodation in four- and five-star hotels as a protective measure for their families.”

The “extreme measure” of social distancing was not sustainable in the long run, CSN warned. 

In the short-term, measures like this are able to lead to a reduction in cases by effectively limiting the exposure of COVID-19 to most of the population.

However, it was inevitable that after a few weeks, more cases will emerge as a result of the inevitable relaxation of social distancing rules, the network added.

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