[WATCH] Coronavirus: Fearne announces lockdown for over-65s and vulnerable groups, including pregnant women

New restrictive measures | Lockdown on all elderly over 65 and people who fall in health-related vulnerable groups • Public gatherings of more than five people will be dispersed by police

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne

All elderly people over 65 and people below that age who fall in health-related vulnerable groups will be forced to stay at home as part of a partial lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The measure was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne on Thursday and will impact 118,000 people. The lockdown will be enforced at law and come into effect on Saturday.

The vulnerable groups irrespective of age are: insulin-dependent diabetics, patients on biologicals, patients on chemotherapy or who underwent such treatment in the past six months, patients who are immuno-suppressed such as those with transplants and HIV, people who undergo renal dialysis, pregnant women, patients who were admitted to hospital for some respiratory disease over the past year, anybody who had a heart condition in the past six months, all those who attend the heart failure clinic and people on oral steroids.

People in these categories and who work, are being asked to either work from home or benefit from special quarantine leave.

The lockdown also applies to people who live with these vulnerable individuals.

All people who fall within the vulnerable categories will be receiving a letter at home informing them of their status.

People under lockdown will be able to go out for medical appointments or be allowed to circulate if they have a special dispensation from the government health officer, which could include doctors over-65.

Fearne said no fines will be introduced at this stage and government was asking for cooperation because it was for the benefit of the individuals involved. He said the measure was intended to avoid a situation as happened in major cities abroad like Milan, Madrid and New York where deaths and critical patients were primarily among vulnerable people.

Deputy PM delivers an update in English

The police will also be empowered with immediate effect to disperse groups of more than five people gathered in public places and ensure that they respect a minimum two-metre distance between each other.

Fearne said the measures were part of an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus at a juncture when Malta expected community spread to start picking up. 

This follows a government announcement earlier that from Monday it will be closing all its social security district offices and customer care centres across Malta and Gozo.

Malta has, so far, registered a total of 134 coronavirus cases. Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci today announced five new cases overnight.

Two people have healed completely and the rest are doing well. A man who is recovering at Mater Dei Hospital's Intensive Therapy Unit has improved.

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