San Ġwann mayor Trevor Fenech has defended the council after it organised a gathering for elderly people which has resulted in some 70 people being put in quarantine.
On Wednesday the superintendent of public health, Charmaine Gauci warned people against socialising over the new year after a tombola event resulted in eight elderly people contracting COVID-19.
"This is not the time for gatherings, especially those involving the elderly," she said, adding that so far 70 people had been ordered into quarantine.
It turns out that the event, held on December 17, was organised by the San Ġwann local council as a social event for the town’s elderly community.
Contacted by Times of Malta, Fenech defended the event saying the council had followed all health guidelines.
You can go to a restaurant full of people, so what is wrong with this?
“We had six people for every table, took people’s temperature on their way in, enforced the use of sanitisers, and so on. You can go to a restaurant full of people, so what is wrong with this?” the mayor said.
He also said that of the eight to contract the virus, four were siblings who sat at the same table, and another two were a mother and daughter.
Fenech said he had not personally spoken to the health authorities before or after the event, but said deputy mayor Anthony Mifsud Bonnici Giordani had been contacted by a doctor working on the public health emergency.
“The easiest thing would be to do nothing for the elderly in our community, but we wanted to do something for them,” Fenech said.
The risk for severe illness and mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, with the elderly the most vulnerable.
Older people, along with health workers, are in the top priority list for the vaccine, which is currently being rolled out in Malta.
PN section committee condemns council event
The PN committee for San Gwann said it had been irresponsible of the local council to hold the event despite many warnings by the Health authorities for people to avoid gatherings, social events and activities for the elderly.
It said those responsible should shoulder their responsibility.
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