The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Virus still poses threat, biggest mistake is to under-estimate it - pathologists

Thursday, 21 May 2020, 10:04 Last update: about 8 days ago

The Malta College of Pathologists said that the Coronavirus still poses a big threat to the Maltese community in spite of efforts being made to play it down, and the biggest mistake would be to underestimate its effects.

In a statement referring to the press conference given by Prime Minister Robert Abela on Monday in which he announced the relaxation of certain measures related to the virus, the college said it is concerned that the public is being given the impression that people have too much fear of the virus, and that an emphasis was placed on telling the public to get out and about.

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“As medical professionals in the field of pathology, we want to make it abundantly clear that this virus still poses a significant threat to our population and the biggest mistake that we can make is to underestimate the health implications of this virus.  With the further relaxation of measures we, now more than ever, have to be much more careful and do our utmost to make sure that the virus does not spread, the college said.  

Social distancing, proper wearing of masks and constant washing of hands need to be at the forefront of everybody's mind.   We cannot let complacency take over as this will result in a sharp rise in cases and possibly also in deaths.   The only reason we have been successful so far is because of unparalleled public trust and cooperation with public health measures, the college said.  With respect to wearing of masks, we would like to invite our public health colleagues to educate the public, preferably on national television, on how to use masks, as many people are wearing them incorrectly.

The college said it is also concerned that our elderly and other vulnerable people are becoming more and more isolated and this is causing a lot of distress and significant mental health issues.  Rather than putting the onus on vulnerable people to decide whether or not to take risks, we invite the authorities to provide clear instructions on how vulnerable people in our society may start to slowly integrate without taking unnecessary risks.  

“We would like to highlight and praise the work of our scientist colleagues, particularly those in the molecular diagnostic testing laboratory, whose sterling work has brought us to the fore as a laboratory  with one of the highest rates of testing anywhere in the world. It is this extensive and continuous screening that has, until now, been the main reason for our success. This needs to be maintained,” the college said.

The College also drew attention to the fact that many important health problems such as heart disease and cancer are being underdiagnosed and "we urge the public to seek immediate medical help if they have any symptoms that cannot be explained away. Just because we have a viral pandemic, this does not mean that other serious diseases have gone away and people who have any concerns about their health should not wait until the pandemic is over to seek medical attention as waiting may result in serious consequences".

 

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