The Malta Independent 25 October 2020, Sunday

Migrants will no longer remain on COVID-19 list following decision by ECDC – Abela

Shona Berger Sunday, 16 August 2020, 12:45 Last update: about 3 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that the number of positive cases of Coronavirus among migrants entering Malta by sea will no longer remain on the list of cases in Malta.

“This comes after Malta has succeeded in convincing the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to exclude the numbers of immigrants from the national statistics of Malta,” Abela said. 

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PM Abela was being interviewed on ONE TV by journalists from The Malta Independent, TVM, and NET TV on Sunday.

He highlighted that, “although the number of Coronavirus cases have increased in the last weeks, we have not lost control of the COVID-19 situation in Malta.”

“We have to reduce the infection rate through clinical measures as people's health is a priority in our country.”

He said that, “it is of utmost important to look at the facts as, unfortunately, we are receiving a lot of misinformation that is simply creating panic and unnecessary anxiety.”

Abela stressed that, “all journalists should investigative but, most importantly, they must be factual.”

Speaking about the testing rate in our country, Abela presented a graph and said that Malta has been successful as it has the highest testing rate.

“We must reconnect to that feeling of national unity where everyone pulls the same strings to reach a single goal. I cannot understand how one can make use of a medical issue and transform it into a political or strategic advantage,” he said.

He expressed his disappointment that there are people who are asking for Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli to resign simply because she abided by the law.

“During this time, we must set aside political interests and stay focused,” Abela said.

With regards to the legal notices that have been issued during the pandemic in our country, Abela stressed that “these are signed by three people including Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and, myself as a Prime Minister.

“Therefore, collectively, we have made every legislative decision for the health of the people,” he said.

Asked on mass events in our country amid COVID-19, Abela said that, “much criticism has been levelled at mass activities and we must again be factual and look at the numbers.”

PM Abela said, “it is wrong to blame the Santa Venera festival or the Hotel Takeover as being the cause of all the active cases.”

Although certain things could have been handled in a better way, Abela stated that, “the entire world, not only our country, was at a disadvantage as we are dealing with a total new situation which was never experienced by anyone before.”

Just last week, a number of frontliners were expressing their concern that there is not enough equipment to handle the situation as the Coronavirus cases have increased drastically in recent weeks. Abela remarked that, “this issue has been addressed and we will ensure that medics have enough PPE equipment to keep everyone safe.”

“Although the majority of people who have COVID-19 are experiencing very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, we are determined to reduce the number of active cases as well as reducing the transmission rate in our country,” Abela said.  

With regards to social distancing which should be abided by everyone, Abela said that “in certain situations this is not being maintained, therefore a legal notice will have to be issued regarding this matter.” 

Abela was asked whether he thinks that mass activities should be stopped and about the opening of schools in September.

With regards to mass activities, Abela explained that ,“we can’t stop all activities and at the same time allow tourists visiting Malta as this would not make sense. The necessary restrictions have been put in place, and we will continue to this to keep everyone as safe as possible, however, we must understand that when we allowed tourists to come to Malta in July, the context completely changed.”

“If tourists visited Malta after our country was closed for a couple of months except in emergency circumstances, the rates in Coronavirus cases will automatically increase,” he said.

In addition, Abela highlighted that he will be meeting with Minister Fearne and the Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci to discuss the situation of the pandemic on Sunday.

Asked on whether Malta is experiencing a second wave, Abela refrained from giving a definite answer and instead remarked that, “as a country we are experiencing an increase in rate infections but we do not have an increase in the rate of people who are critically ill - something that could possibly change tomorrow. Regardless, we have managed to keep the death rate in Malta consistently low.”

Abela further acknowledged that Paceville posed a problem, as it has seen the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases (58). However, he said that “closing down discos and nightclubs would mean shutting down a sector in tourism.”

With regards to reopening of schools, Abela remarked that the government will be following the recommendations made by the Health Authorities.

“It is crucial that our schools open as we do not afford to lose a generation in our educational system, but it is of utmost importance that everyone is kept safe,” he said.

Asked why Attorney General Peter Grech has resigned, Abela remarked that, "this was a decision taken by Grech on Saturday, and I will be asking for his letter of resignation so that the public, including the media will have reasons for his resignation."

 

 

 

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