The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Watch - Risk of illness is ‘never zero’: Doctors publish ‘clear advice’ on Coronavirus

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 30 June 2020, 10:10 Last update: about 13 days ago

Associations representing doctors have expressed their concern about advice given to the public regarding the ongoing pandemic, which they describe as being occasionally “unclear”.

The Medical Association of Malta and the Malta Association of Public Health Medicine today published “expert advice for people to make up their own minds about their risk tolerance, aware that the risk of illness is never zero, conscious that the economy needs to work and in the knowledge that people expect clear medical advice.” The advice comes a day before the airport is reopened, the last of restrictive measures to be lifted.

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Addressing journalists, Medical Association of Malta president Martin Balzan said that the association is still concerned about opening up of the borders tomorrow. 

“We acknowledge that the reopening of the country to tourists is an economic necessity, but that means that now we must truly take precautions seriously, and do what we can to ensure public safety and minimise risk,” Balzan said. 

He said he was surprised that the reopening of hairdressing salons and restaurants did not led to any new cases, but he said that MAM disagrees with the removal of complete enforcement. “Now more than ever, every single one of us must follow public health guidelines, especially the tourist sector,” he said. Balzan explained that if a hotel finds one person tested positive, the whole hotel has to shut down. “All we have done, we must keep doing and strengthen our vigilance.”

MAM wished to carry out the concept of having a ‘safe island’, where everyone follows precaution, continues wearing a mask, obeying social distancing and personal hygiene. Balzan stressed that now is not the time to let go of what the island has worked so hard to achieve.

In a press conference outside Mater Dei Hospital, the associations said there is still sustained spread of Covid-19 within the community. They acknowledged that the efforts of the front line professionals, the professional leadership and the ability of the country to make all resources available, brought this to a low level.

It is important that people remain vigilant and follow public health recommendations. This will reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.

Everyone is responsible for their actions in reducing the risk of infecting themselves and the prevention of transmitting the coronavirus to others especially the most vulnerable. “If you or anyone you know develops any of the symptoms suggestive of coronavirus it is important to organise a swab test by calling the Public Health helpline (111). Keeping up the rates of swab tests is very important at the individual level to ensure appropriate quarantine and medical treatment,” the associations said. Keeping up the daily rate of swab tests ensures good monitoring of the spread in the community.

Everyone who has travelled in the last 14 days should avoid vulnerable people and get tested if any symptoms appear. This applies to tourists too, the associations said. Call 111 to organise a test and isolate until the results are out, they suggested.

Persons who suffer from severe chronic illnesses, the elderly (over 65 years) and those who have low immunity due to illness or as a result of certain prescription medication, are more likely to suffer from complications or severe disease if they had to become infected. These groups of people should be even more careful, be conscious of their actions, who they meet and where they choose to go always remaining vigilant and adopting the necessary precautions, the associations said.

The following key principles are applicable to everyone to help prevent themselves from getting infected with the COVID-19 virus: SARS-CoV2. Protective measures against contracting coronavirus

· Maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from others

· Meticulous regular hand hygiene using soap and water or a hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol for 30 seconds

· Adopt mitigation measures - use masks and/ or visors when carrying out activities within the community Since it is now possible to carry out most activities (including travel very soon), it is important for everyone to think about the risk they are placing themselves in, and whether the activity is worth the risk


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