The Malta Independent 14 April 2021, Wednesday

Prime Minister defends Charmaine Gauci: ‘It was she and her team who stopped thousands from dying’

Albert Galea Thursday, 4 March 2021, 16:12 Last update: about 2 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela forcefully defended Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci after fielding questions which put her position under question on Thursday, saying that it was she and her team who had stopped Malta from facing catastrophic consequences from the pandemic.

Gauci was asked during a press conference on Thursday whether, given the record amount of cases and given that Malta has experienced over 300 deaths so far, she would resign and hand over the reins to someone who could implement more serious measures – with the question implying that Gauci had allowed politicians to ignore advice given by health authorities.

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“I will defend Charmaine Gauci with all my strength as it was her and her team who stopped us having the predicted thousands of deaths”, Abela forcefully interjected after the question was asked.

He said that the predictions drawn up by authorities suggested that the country would be facing thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of cases and that the government had done its best to avoid that situation – which it had successfully.

He admitted that there were moments where they could have done betters, but he said that he has no remorse in saying that the government put every bit of strength they could into this situation.

“People are frustrated – I understand that.  So am I – I am frustrated because we are trying to make other changes to make people’s lives better, like a rent reform we announced last week which protects some 10,000 families, and at the same time we are dealing with a situation which is putting every leader globally under pressure”, he said.

On her part, Gauci said that she and the Covid-19 team had always used science as their guide and acted according to the sources of the cases being found. 

She said that for every case where there may be transmission, there are measures to mitigate against it taking place.  She admitted that the predictions for Malta were “very ugly”, with cases predicted to be a lot higher and the country’s ITU in nowhere near the state it is in now.

She said that the science behind the virus is developing pari-passu with the virus itself, however authorities are using that science to continue to fight against the virus regardless.

Answering a later question, Abela, verging on the emotional, spoke of how the pressure of running the country through the pandemic and of trying to continuously strike the right balance between the country’s health, the economy, people’s wellbeing, and education amongst others.

He said that he has this responsibility, and that while there were occasions where he could have done better, he is proud because he still did things to the best of his abilities, and because he wanted the best for the Maltese people. 

Asked if he would apologise over declarations he had made which may have given a false sense of normality, Abela fired off a long list of reasons why he should not apologise, including spending on preventive measures, measures to save jobs and businesses, the issuing of vouchers and plans for another round of vouchers.

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