The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Rapid testing to start today; two new swabbing centres set to open in coming days

Giulia Magri Wednesday, 28 October 2020, 11:46 Last update: about 4 months ago

Two COVID-19 swabbing centres which will focus on rapid testing will begin operating in the next few days, Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne announced on Wednesday.

Speaking during a press conference held at Oncology Centre at Mater Dei, Fearne announced that Malta will have two additional swabbing centres. There are currently six swabbing centres on the island, Mater Dei, Pembroke, Luqa, Burmarrad, Hal Qormi and Gozo.

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Fearne said that one of the new centres will be at the grounds of Boffa Hospital in Floriana, which will be opened today whilst the second rapid testing centre will be located in the north of the island, without going into specific details as to where.

He said that this swabbing hub will open next week.

The opening of two new testing hubs was first revealed by Fearne in an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday published over the weekend.

He said that the rapid testing kits from today will be used at elderly homes, for both the staff and elderly residents. Fearne mentioned that in the coming days the rapid testing kits will also be introduced at the airport, schools and primary healthcare centres.

Answering questions from the media, Fearne stressed that the public must be responsible and follow the latest measure of banning groups of six people in public. Whilst he said that the authorities cannot enforce this in private homes he emphasised that people must be responsible. He said that people should not try to find any loopholes when it comes to any measures introduced.

Fearne announced that the 2021 Budget has allocated a sum of €824 million towards the Health Care sector. "Last year, which was a record, we had allocated €753 million, including €105 million just towards COVID-19 safety measures and equipment," he said.

Additional 200 medical staff to help in Covid-19 ITUs

MUMN & MAM have been complaining that there are not enough medical staff to treat all the potential Covid-19 patients in intensive care and that they will definitely not cope if the hospital continues to fill up with more Covid-19 patients - there are already reports that doctors and nurses from other departments are being called to help in the ITU.

"We have an agreement with MUMN that in the months to come, we will be hiring an extra 200 medical staff and nurses. These will be foreign nurses, and will start working immediately once they arrive."

Fearne said that the Health Ministry has held discussions with both unions and also the General Workers Union daily, to ensure that health care workers are taken care of.

When asked about vaccine trials, Fearne said that there are a number of companies that are testing whether the Covid-19 vaccine trials are safe for the use of the general public. "So far, the big companies are receiving positive feedback, and if trials continue to be positive, then it is expected that at the beginning of next year countries in the EU will have the vaccine."


 

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