The Malta Independent 3 August 2020, Monday

‘People should still act responsibly,’ Charmaine Gauci says after large crowds flock to feasts

Karl Azzopardi Tuesday, 21 July 2020, 09:25 Last update: about 13 days ago

People should still act responsibly, Superintendent of Public Health Prof Charmaine Gauci told The Malta Independent while emphasising that the pandemic is not over yet, despite Malta having such low local transmission rates. 

Over the weekend, there were numerous celebrations across Malta and Gozo in light of the feast of St. George, which caused quite the controversy as large crowds of people flooded village squares without practicing social distancing. 

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Some felt that anyone who was present was being reckless, seeing that Malta is just coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which large gatherings were completely banned. MUMN President Paul Pace lamented on Facebook that weddings and graduations were still not being done, but that feast marches with major crowds were.

The Malta Independent spoke to Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci who gave her own two cents about the situation. 

“It is quite evident that Malta’s rate of transmission is low. However, our recommendation is to avoid close contact and gatherings of people because, as we have already said, the pandemic is not over. We still have people in the community who are or could be positive,” she explained. 

She warned that, as has happened in the past few days, Malta may experience some imported cases and even though the health authroities are still maintiaining their containment strategy and taking immediate action, the public should still act responsibly. 

This means that poeple should take wise decisions when thinking about going out, especially when it comes to vulnerable individuals like the old and those suffering from chronic diseases. 

Asked on what basis the authorities decided to allow feasts to take place once again after being banned since March, she said that it was a now or never situation. 

“This is a different scenario from what we had before, when community transmission was high,” she said, expressing her gratitude towards the fact that there were no resurgences of cases within the local scenario. 

However, she believes that social distancing regulations should still be respected as this is the only way Malta will keep things under control as it has managed to do over the past months. 

“We remained in control of the situation because people were responsible, so we appeal to people to keep this up. Social responsibility is important as it not only benefits oneself but those around them too.” 

Asked about what she would suggest for people planning to organise or attend a feast, Gauci said that people should prioritise creating events where social distancing is possible and to plan out where they go. People have to acknowledge the fact that there might be people who are infected if there is a large crowd. 

She encouraged anyone who has symptoms not to go out and instead call 111, even if it results that they simply have a common cold. “This will let us tackle positive cases at their early stages which is the basis of keeping things under control. People should also avoid large crowds, practice social distancing and wear their masks if they have just travelled.” 

Asked if people should self-quarantine, if possible, when coming back from a trip, Gauci said that it all depends on the destination they went to and what they did as some may have simply spent their time in a secluded area practising precautionary measures while others would go out clubbing, which would be a different story. 

She also pointed out that any Maltese citizens who were abroad outside the safe corridor list are still being asked to self-quarantine when they are repatriated, like someone coming from the US.

 

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