The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

We’re worried that one of us has COVID-19; we need to be tested - Hal Far open centre resident

Giulia Magri Friday, 10 April 2020, 11:47 Last update: about 3 months ago

Last Sunday evening, the government announced that the Hal Far Open centre is to be placed under quarantine after eight residents tested positive for COVID-19.

Whilst a number of measures have been taken place to limit physical contact amongst residents at the open centre, Zane*, a person who lives at the centre, explained that residents are worried about overcrowding and that other migrants might have the virus without knowing.

"We are all here, we cannot go out of our rooms unless we want to use the bathroom, where we then have to queue, and this is making all of us very nervous," he explained.


He said that, whilst food is being distributed, residents are worried that there might not be enough for everyone.

"During the day we are given a bottle of water, for breakfast we get bread and orange, sometimes we get milk, but not always. For lunch we are given an apple and two pieces of bread, and for supper we are given pasta."

Zane is worried about the level of sanitation. Every resident was given hand soap and shampoo, but he has already run out of both supplies and does not know when he will get some more.

"Sometimes, the water supply in the bathroom is not good and, at times we do not have any hot water. I am very worried about this."

Whilst trying to limit physical contact, Zane still shares a room with eight other people and all are feeling nervous, anxious and bored. "We have very limited internet connection, and everyone is trying to keep in touch with friends and family, so we are depending on our mobile devices. We should at least have proper internet connection, so that we can keep updated with what is happening outside."

Before the open centre was put on lockdown, Zane had a job but he is not sure he will still be in employment once the situation he currently finds himself in is over. "I cannot go out and I do not know what is going to happen next."

Three of the migrants who tested positive for Covid-19 were Zane's friends. He was able to contact them and said that they all seem well.

Public healt chief Charmaine Gauci explained that random swab tests will be taking place at the Open Centre, but Zane and other migrants believe that everyone at the centre should be tested.

"Being in groups like this, sharing everything together, we are worried that we will spread the virus amongst ourselves. We should all be tested so that we know whether we have the virus and that way we will be separated and not kept together."


*Name of person has been changed to protect their identity


Photos: Alenka Falzon

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