Coronavirus: Doctors insist flights from northern Italy must halt

Doctors' Association warned that it could take whatever measures necessary to protect its members if the government did not halt flights from lockdown areas in Italy

File photo
File photo

The Medical Association of Malta has reiterated its call for flights from northern Italy to be temporarily halted.

"The Italian government has declared the region of Lombardia and 14 provinces in northern Italy as quarantine zone, where people are forbidden to travel unless they receive special permission. This was ordered because the situation in Italy is very grave, with the epidemic spreading like wildfire to thousands, with hundreds of deaths and intensive care admissions," the association said in a statement on Sunday.

At a political activity in Rabat on Sunday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that it was not yet time for such extreme decisions.

He also appealed for associations to be fair in their comments and said that the government would not play with the nation's wellbeing.

On Sunday, MaltaToday revealed that Abela was in disagreement with his health minister, Chris Fearne, with the latter suggesting that flights from Italy be halted.

The doctors' association said that Malta needed to adopt a tougher approach to stop the epidemic from spreading.

"It is clear that the Italian authorities just like China have failed to stop the epidemic with their soft approach and have now changed to lockdown approach.

"The 3 cases in Malta are the result of a family who travelled to northern Italy despite the advice not to do so. While this family was lucky to get a mild illness, not everybody will be so lucky. They have created a grave risk for all the half a million inhabitants of the Maltese islands," the doctors said.

Daily flights to Malta from lockdown areas in Italy continue unabated. Medical advice of consultants in the department of medicine at Mater Dei recommends a ban, with trade unions and social partners insisting that flights be stopped.

The MAM warned that if such precautionary decisions are not made, the association was ready to take any measures necessary to protect its members. 

"MAM appeals to the government to stop with immediate effect all flights from northern Italy and to order mandatory quarantine for flights from other cities from Italy. The soft approach is a proven failure, let us protect our country and not have to go into lockdown after thousands get sick."