In Malta, there have not been any registered case of COVID-19 as yet (the Coronavirus from China) but three persons have been quarantined as a precautionary measure, and are being followed by the public health authorities. This was confirmed by the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne.
The three Maltese nationals have been placed in quarantine upon their arrival to Malta after being on a cruise liner where passengers were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. The Maltese were passengers on the cruise liner MS Westerndam that was refused harbour from five different countries in 11 days until the ship was allowed in Cambodia on 13th February.
Meanwhile a national centre in Luqa, close to the airport, was set up for persons who arrive in Malta from countries that are considered as hazardous for spreading the disease COVID-19. These persons would be examined, with the test results being provided in two hours time. The screening of passengers coming from high-risk areas is also available at the cruise liner terminal in Valletta. An isolation unit with 12 beds has been set up in a building outside Mater Dei Hospital and the number of beds in the hospital’s own isolation unit have been increased.
However, the Minister of Health declared that the coronavirus will eventually hit Malta, but added that Malta is well prepared for any eventuality. “Malta is not immune to the virus as we are part of the world and we are no different from other countries. I cannot say if the virus will hit us tonight or what will happen tomorrow or next month. Malta is part of the world and yes there is the possibility for our country to report cases of coronavirus. I cannot say Malta will not be hit by this virus.” He continued explaining that for the virus to be transmitted it is very easy and we cannot ban people from travelling to Malta. Information campaigns with recommendations on personal hygiene soon will follow, according to the Minister of Health.
He said that Malta has prepared for every eventuality if a coronavirus case is reported and that health officials are also taking all the measures and precautions so that we limit or better eliminate the risk for the virus to hit Malta. Health authorities are monitoring closely cases of people who have recently travelled to China by asking them to check their temperature twice a day. Also, health authorities are following up with daily phone calls.
Meanwhile, regular communication is being kept with the World Health Organisation, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the EU Health Security Committee. Malta Public Health authorities are also participating in regular teleconferences for all EU member states where updates are given and advice on actions to take.
Leading the fight against the coronavirus is a Maltese physician, Dr Gauden Galea who is the World Health Organisation’s representative to China since April 2018. He says that although the number of coronavirus cases are dropping down, there is no certainity that the outbreak is contained until the incubation period is over.
The University of Malta is recommending that visits from academic staff and researchers from China be postponed in light of the new virus from China. The University of Malta is advising staff and students against travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak. “We also recommend that planned visits, particularly short-term visits by academic staff and researchers from China are postponed for the time being,” said the University.
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