[WATCH] Malta’s health and migrant reception facilities have their limit, Chris Fearne says

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne insists the country cannot accept migrant arrivals at a time when it is battling a public health emergency caused by the coronavirus

Chris Fearne interviewed by Saviour Balzan on Xtra said Malta could not accept migrant arrivals in the midst of the coronavirus crisis
Chris Fearne interviewed by Saviour Balzan on Xtra said Malta could not accept migrant arrivals in the midst of the coronavirus crisis

Malta cannot accept migrant arrivals in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Chris Fearne said this evening.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the country’s limited size and resources and in the midst of a pandemic, the country cannot afford an increase in population size.

“Both our health facilities, and our country’s other facilities, have their limits,” Fearne said on TVM’s Xtra on Thursday night.

READ ALSO: Malta shuts its ports to migrants, tells European Commission it 'cannot guarantee resources for mass rescues'

“With the COVID-19 situation, we are already worried that, unless we maintain strict discipline, we may come to a point where our health services may not be enough, even with the population as it currently is. If we will continue increasing in population, we will certainly not be able to cope,” he said.

The Health Minister added that the government remained committed to ensuring that all those within the Maltese islands, without distinction, shall benefit from any medical assistance they require.

However, he insisted that Europe and the wider global community had to understand the situation which Malta finds itself in.

Malta will still offer help to those who need it, stating that “we do not want anyone to drown”, but insisted that the message, which the government is putting forward is clear – “we cannot keep accepting people in our country in this moment, because our resources are what they are. Malta is not the place for boats to come in these days. That is clear.”

He reiterated his call for people to stay at home as much as possible so as to help limit the spread of the virus, stressing that the most important thing is to make certain that Malta’s health services are not overwhelmed. 

“Many European countries did not manage to cope with the demand on their health services. There were people who died not because they could not fight the virus, but because the hospitals could not give them the medical assistance they needed,” Fearne warned, appealing to the public to help ensure that Malta does not come to this.

The minister said that there are numerous cases where people are not exhibiting symptoms and might not even realise that they are sick, but warned that these would still be contagious and would unknowingly continue spreading the virus unless they remain at home. 

“The more disciplined we are at this point, the more chance we have of passing through this with fewer deaths and less damage,” he said.