MAM may suspend directives if government follows public health guidelines on mass events

The Medical Association of Malta welcomed the cancellation of four “potentially catastrophic”  parties,  but insisted that all mass events be banned as from Monday until the new spike in Covid-19 cases is brought under control

MAM has given the government up till Monday to follow Prof. Gauci's advice
MAM has given the government up till Monday to follow Prof. Gauci's advice

The Medical Association of Malta council will decide whether to suspend the directives planned for Monday, depending on the government’s response to its demand that it follow the advice of the Superintendent of Public Health due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hospital and medical services will be heavily curtailed on Monday if union members go ahead with the directives, which will affect all outpatients and elective surgeries amongst others.

The news comes in the wake of the government's cancellation of plans for four large parties due to the coronavirus risk, following a heavy backlash from the medical community and concerned members of the public.

The MAM welcomed a statement by the Superintendent of Public Health Prof. Charmaine Gauci in which she said that she was completely against mass events, because, it said, they could lead to an epidemic of uncontrollable proportions.

MAM said it was disappointed that the tourism minister “with the clear backing of the Office of the Prime Minister” not only chose to ignore the advice of the superintendent and authorized mass events but chose those events labelled as “extremely high risk”.”

It added that Gauci had been proven right as one event with 700 attendees – a band march in Santa Venera – had led to a new spike in cases “and possibly a new epidemic with numbers comparable to April.”

“10,000 individuals sought swabbing in the space of 48 hours, when the swabbing capacity was 1,000 per day with the result that the track and trace arm of control was overwhelmed. This also means that the actual number of current positives may be as high as four times the reported number.”

The MAM welcomed the cancellation of the four “potentially catastrophic” parties, but insisted that the advice of the Superintendent is to be heeded and all mass events be banned as from Monday until the new spike is brought under control, because the country risks tourism blacklisting by all other EU countries.

“Legally enforceable regulations about the wearing of facemasks indoors, punishable by fines, identical to those in virtually all other EU countries should be introduced with immediate effect,” MAM said.

Family doctors: show youths the way

The Malta College of Family Doctors (MCFD) accused organisers mass events of giving short shrift to public health recommendations to decrease the spread of COVID-19 virus.

“It is well known that a number of these have resulted in the recent spike of active cases. This is a slap on the face to all well-meaning citizens and especially the front-liners. The MCFD calls on those national authorities that give the permits for such activities, to be themselves responsible, together with the organisers, to make sure that the recommendations are upheld,” secretary Dr Jason Bonnici said.

The MCFD called on national authorities to embark on an educational campaign to instruct young people on why respect for the recommendations of the medical community was needed to protect the vulnerable, and on how they can continue to safely enjoy themselves in their leisure time.

“Role models for young people can be enrolled in the initiative to bring the message across more effectively. We urge public figures, including national representatives, to lead by example in promoting civic responsibility to protect the vulnerable by respecting the recommendations of the medical community in social distancing and the use of masks in own individual events and collectively to bring across a coherent unified national message that ensures the wellbeing of our society.”

The MCFD applauded the vast majority of citizens and business enterprises whose self-discipline and personal sacrifice helped control the COVID-19 pandemic.