COVID-19: Enforcement will be stepped up, Chris Fearne says

Health Minister Chris Fearne says new restrictions will be announced shortly and enforcement will be stepped up to combat coronavirus surge

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne

As Malta grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases, government will be introducing new restrictions and step up enforcement, Chris Fearne said.

The Deputy Prime Minister did not indicate when the new measures will come into force or what they will be, however, he did suggest the wider use of face masks.

Fearne was speaking on TVM’s Xtra on Thursday, the same day that Malta registered a record 112 new infections and active cases that surpassed the 1,000 mark.

He said talks took place between various authorities over the past days to step up enforcement of COVID restrictions. Government has faced criticism of adopting a lax attitude to enforcement despite the increasing number of new infections.

Fearne said the surge in COVID-19 infections in Malta reflected similar trends abroad and pinned this down to pandemic fatigue.

“Evidence shows that people under 50 are increasingly growing tired of the situation and reasoning that it was better if they contracted the infection to get it over and done with. But this is wrong because there is no guarantee the person will not contract the infection again and worse, it could also put vulnerable people at risk,” Fearne said.

He called on people to have patience because a COVID-19 vaccine is in the offing. “We are asking for patience for a few more months and with Christmas soon coming up I urge people to be careful how they celebrate outside and more importantly inside their homes,” he said.

Fearne said Mater Dei Hospital had six ITU facilities to be able to deal with a worsening situation.

“Hopefully we do not use them but this is why it is all the more important for people to take the seasonal influenza vaccine this year to avoid complications of contracting coronavirus and the flu at the same time,” he added.