Nurses’ union insists Malta unprepared for coronavirus outbreak

Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses criticises COVID-19 contingency plans, says only 14 isolation beds are available

MUMN criticises government's coronavirus contingency plans, insists Malta unprepared
MUMN criticises government's coronavirus contingency plans, insists Malta unprepared

Malta is unprepared for a potential outbreak of coronavirus with contingency plans identifying only 14 isolation beds, the nurses’ union is insisting. 

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses said on Wednesday that contingency plans announced by the health authorities yesterday showed the country’s unpreparedness.

The union said the preparatory plan unveiled by the authorities covered only 14 beds in the intensive therapy unit (ITU) and the infectious diseases unit (IDU).

“This implies that Malta and Gozo are prepared for 14 cases only. If an airplane or a cruise liner arrives with more than 14 potential infected patients - as happened abroad were 100s were infected both on planes and on cruise liners - Malta would not have the facilities nor the nurses to attend to such patients,” the MUMN said.

It also claimed that the health authorities’ statement that 350 nurses in the emergency department, ITU and IDU were given training to deal with coronavirus, COVID-19, cases was untrue.

“These units only have 220 nurses,” the MUMN said, adding no training was given to hundreds of other nurses working in the other wards of Mater Dei Hospital, the Gozo General Hospital and nurses in the primary healthcare sector.

“The training is needed just in case hospitalisation of patients in these wards is needed during an intensive outbreak,” the MUMN said.

The union insisted that there was no alternative isolation unit outside Mater Dei Hospital, something that should have been the focus of any contingency plan to deal with the coronavirus. 

The MUMN said it directed two of its members not to attend suspected cases of COVID-19 since the nurses were not allowed to wear facemasks. The union also raised concerns over what it claimed were “serious problems” regarding the personal protective equipment made available to healthcare workers.

The union’s reaction comes a day after the health authorities tried to assure people that all precautionary measures were being taken to tackle any eventual outbreak of COVID-19.

News of an outbreak in north Italy has sparked panic among people, with some supermarkets reporting cases of panic buying.

So far, no COVID-19 cases have been reported in Malta.

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