[WATCH] No room for further restrictive measures at this time, Robert Abela says

Prime Minister Robert Abela reiterates that a total lockdown was not the correct way forward and that there was complete agreement between himself and the health authorities on the health measures being issued

Robert Abela on Pjazza
Robert Abela on Pjazza

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that despite the steep rise in new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, 52, there was no room for further restrictive measures at this time.

Speaking on ONE TV’s Pjazza, Abela said that the sharp rise in cases was anticipated by the government and the health authorities and that such a rise was expected earlier.

“We knew this day would come. We thought it would come earlier. We anticipated it and we are prepared for it, we are prepared for the worst, but there is no room for further restrictive measures at this time,” he said, adding that if today’s sharp rise in cases is followed by another upsurge of positive cases, this could quickly change.

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Abela contended that not enforcing a total lockdown at an earlier stage was still the correct decision and that the measures introduced gradually was preferred.

“I feel the pressure of responsibility,” he admitted. “Malta hasn’t gone through a tougher time since the war, but people are encouraging me. I enjoy going to the frontline, I’m not the kind of person to sit behind a desk. I see the sense of solidarity and responsibility amongst the Armed Forces, the health authorities, the doctors,” he said, adding that since 13 January, Malta has faced one crisis after another, but has performed well during these challenges.

Speaking about the EU’s response to the crisis, Abela said that while he expected the bloc to react more tangibly and to take stronger decisions, the virus originating from China in November had taken the world by surprise.

Abela criticised anyone who was attempting to garner political mileage out of the current crisis and said that the government was not divided on the health measures being issued.

“All legal notices released, all preventive measures, the closing of airports, ports and schools, were signed by health minister Chris Fearne, the public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci, and myself. We always agreed completely on these measures. There are, however, those who are insensitive and are riding on the fear of the people.”

Abela referred to the mandatory quarantine imposed on the Hal Far open centre and said that this was not a discriminatory move but a strategy to safeguard the public health. Surveillance, he said, was being carried out by police and the Armed Forces at all times.