The Malta Independent 14 April 2021, Wednesday

Government must be transparent and honest on vaccination programme – Bernard Grech

Saturday, 6 March 2021, 12:44 Last update: about 2 months ago

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech on Saturday said that the government must be transparent and provide all information on the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

During an interview on NET FM, the Nationalist Party’s radio station, Grech referred to the independent inquiry he called for on Thursday into alleged irregularities in the country’s vaccine rollout.

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Grech explained that he asked for an independent inquiry so that there is absolute transparency on the vaccination process.

“In a time where our country is currently going through a health emergency, experiencing record Covid-19 numbers every day, you can’t have people who take preference over vulnerable people as everyone should get the vaccine when it is their time,” he said.

Grech explained that he had informed Health Minister Chris Fearne about information the party received about people who took the vaccine in Attard when they were not on the list to receive it. He also said that nurses within health care clinics are not receiving the list of people who are meant to receive the vaccine, so people are just walking in to take it.

Speaking on how Prime Minister Robert Abela is handling the Covid-19 pandemic, Grech said the government lost control of the situation.

“We had a Prime Minister who rushed in taking decisions and made overly optimistic statements which only gave the public false hope. Although it is a very positive thing to move forward, we cannot do this at the expense of people’s health”, Grech said.

He added that after seeing PM Abela “collapse” on national television, it is evident that he has lost control and does not know what to do.

“We cannot have a Prime Minister who is showing this country that not only does he not have control over what he does but also does not know exactly what the way forward is,” he said.

Grech stressed that the Nationalist Party has been giving advice and recommendations on how to handle this pandemic for months, but PM Abela insists do it on his own.

Among the proposals put forward by the Nationalist Party were the issuance of vouchers, as well as rapid testing from the very beginning of this pandemic. Grech also added some other proposals put forward by the PN included making sure that the contact tracing system did not collapse and that there would be serious enforcement.

Speaking about Health Minister Chris Fearne’s accusations that there are PN MPs who wanted to skip the queue for the vaccine, Grech said that “after Fearne gave me the names of two PN MPs who supposedly asked to jump the queue, I investigated the matter and they swore to me that it was not true.”

When looking at statistics and comparing them to other countries, one can see how alarming the situation in Malta is, he continued.

Grech remarked that when a country, like Malta experiences such a sudden increase, there is a risk of affecting the whole health sector as this is putting a lot of pressure on the health service, on the ITU as well as on all frontliners.

He added that, “this is also affecting those people who need other medical services such as operations and other treatments as they are being postponed. The reason this is happening is because the majority of resources are being used to control the pandemic.”

Grech stressed that due to the Prime Minister’s “lack of competence” and due to his “arrogance”, businesses and owners are suffering. In addition, expectant fathers are also suffering due to a hasty decision made by the government to prohibit fathers of newborn children from spending time with their partner and babies in hospital after the birth.

Grech emphasized on the importance of listening to what experts have to say during such a situation.

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