“We are doing all that we can to give life again to the social and the economical sector of the country, but the health of the people of Malta and Gozo remains the most important thing.”
This was the main sentiment expressed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne when he was interviewed yesterday on Bay Chats with Drew and Noel, on the eve of today’s “new normal.”
DPM Chris Fearne said measures are being relaxed in a systematic manner, “so that we monitor and analyse their impact, over two or three weeks. The biggest problem would be if, consequently, we see an increase of COVID-19 patients in hospital and in the Intensive Care Unit.”
Chris Fearne said that the Maltese Health Authorities have increased the bed supply and the equipment over the past three months, in preparation of the outbreak, adding that the cut-off point, for the relaxation of measures to take a step back, would be when the hospital space and resources would be stretched to the limit.
“We are living in the COVID era. We do not know how long this will take, and it will reach its end when the vaccine is found, and when the vaccine is guaranteed to work,” he said.
“The fact that we had double-digit figures in the past days is due to two reasons”
DPM Chris Fearne said that on one hand, “we know that when the rate of testing increases, so will the rate of new cases. However, on the other hand, we know that this was also partly because of the relaxation of new measures, which is what we were expecting.”
He said that with every measure that is relaxed, especially if social distancing is not adhered to, the risk of contagion increases, which is why social distancing remains important, adding that “this is why this concept is in the centre of all the measures which we are relaxing and the mitigation protocols which have been issued in line with the relaxation of measures.”
“We didn’t want a tsunami of cases, which would have overwhelmed the healthcare system. We wanted to turn the tsunami into a river, and we have succeeded.”
The Deputy Prime Minister said that when they saw that the numbers of cases was being low and controlled, “we then started seeing how best to relax these measures in an intelligent manner, however, keeping in mind the importance of social distancing.”
We are relaxing the measures, but we should not relax our attitude and our discipline which we have shown as a country. We should not relax the responsibility which we all have to look after our health, and that of others.
“We are looking at Child Care Centres and their reopening to be in the next set of relaxed measures.”
Whilst reiterating that the reopening of Child-care centres is being considered in the next set of measures to be relaxed, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said that the situation of the COVID-19 outbreak in Malta is being looked at on a day-to-day basis.
“This can be in a week, in two weeks or in three, but in this case it is premature to say. I cannot say what happens tomorrow, even though we have our calculations and the predictive modelling,” Fearne said, when he was also questioned about the reopening of other educational institutions.
“We struggled to go up the mountain, we have to be careful to not slip as we go down.”
Minister Fearne said that we are definitely going through a period which is directly affected by this virus, “there is no other way how to put it.”
“We cannot ignore that the virus is not in existence, but we cannot, however, let it take over our lives in an indefinite manner. We acted fast and in a way that this virus did not hit us as bad as it has hit other countries, which is why we have to continue relaxing measures in a controlled manner.”
He expressed his gratitude towards all the healthcare professionals, and towards those employees who have continued to be of service to the people of Malta and Gozo, even though they might have been putting their life and the lives of their families at risk.
“Let us continue building on our successes, we cannot remain static – but, we have to move on, while remaining disciplined, as we have been so far. We have to live with the virus, we have to find ways to overcome the virus, not by ignoring it but by going back to our lives, with the virus in the background,” he concluded.