Doctors’ union lambasts tourism ministry over ‘amateurish behaviour’ on COVID

Medical Association of Malta criticises tourism ministry’s ‘lack of foresight’ as COVID infections begin rising again • Forum Unions Maltin calls for only vaccinated tourists to be allowed to enter Malta 

Doctors: green list now a dubious privilege as unvaccinated tourists enter island
Doctors: green list now a dubious privilege as unvaccinated tourists enter island

The Medical Association of Malta (MAM) has expressed its disappointment at the “amateurism” and “lack of foresight” of the Ministry for Tourism, as COVID-19 cases begin to rise, with 55 reported on Thursday.

In a statement on Friday morning, the association said that 10 days ago, 5,000 students had been evacuated by ship from the Spanish island of Mallorca after student parties had led to more than 500 cases a day just on this island. This, MAM said, followed the "dubious privilege” of being on the UK’s green list.

“The same happened in Portugal where Lisbon was forced into lockdown within a matter of a couple of weeks,” the association warned.

MAM said being on the UK green list was nothing but a poisoned chalice set for rapid and devastating repetition of what happened in Mallorca and Lisbon. It continued that the UK was exporting the highly transmissible variant and actively promoting mass events with an average of more than 20,000 cases a day.

“Fans watching the EURO2020 must have wondered why both Italian and German fans were banned from travelling to the UK,” MAM said.

The association said the same mistakes as last year are being repeated by opening Malta to tourist brackets characterised by unruly behaviour with high transmission and low vaccination rates. It said herd immunity of 70% stops an epidemic only if there is no continuous massive sending of virus from aboard.

“MAM had strongly advised the MHRA and the Tourism authorities to promote safe tourism with an opening to Tourism only to vaccinated individuals who would be required to swab as well, and prohibit those activities which attract unruly tourists unlikely to comply with preventive measures and social distancing,” it said.

MAM said with 50 cases a day and a daily doubling rate of cases, Malta will soon be on the EU's red lists in a matter of days bringing tourism down with a bang.

“This is most unfair to the healthcare workers who once again must make personal sacrifices to treat these patients, but also to those whose livelihood is dependent on the tourist industry. This also unfair with all those who have made great sacrifices to bring a return to normality,” the association said.

MAM said urgent restrictions on parties and mass events are necessary to stop this new wave as soon as possible and a quick change of strategy promoting only safe tourism to Malta. 

The association also strongly encourages all those who are not vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. As soon as COVID spreads from tourists to the 80,000 plus unvaccinated Maltese residents, the health care system will be put under tremendous pressure once again.

'Only vaccinated tourists should be able to enter Malta' - Forum Unions Maltin

In a statement on Friday, Forum Unions Maltin said it was concerned by the government’s decision to allow tourism in any form without vaccinations.

"WHO has repeatedly stressed that herd immunity would not be sufficient to prevent another outbreak of Covid. It is clear that such important warning from WHO still holds and must be adhered to by the Government,” the union said.

For.U.M. said it was clear that necessary safeguards were not implemented and that sacrifices done by all are being jeopardised by allowing tourists to arrive on the island unvaccinated.

This also shows the lack of respect to all front liners,” it said.

The union said it was informed that operations at Mater Dei Hospital have re-started in all operating theatres to counterpart the substantial waiting list created due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak this year. For.U.M. said such operations could be disrupted by the increase in COVID cases to the detriment of the Maltese nation.

“Therefore, For.U.M. appeals to the Government to change its current measures on Covid and to adopt measures which clearly state that ONLY fully vaccinated tourists should be allowed to enter the Maltese islands,” the union said.

READ MORE: COVID-19: 55 new infections, majority language students