The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Covid spike - Bring Charmaine back

Friday, 16 July 2021, 09:00 Last update: about 20 days ago

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci has in many ways been the face of Malta’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

With tireless work and a no-doubt packed schedule, for many months when the pandemic first hit Malta she faced the public every day to give updates on the situation pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Her press conferences were stopped when the number of cases decreased, but were then restarted once a week when the number of cases started to increase again.

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With Malta’s vaccination drive in full swing and with cases at near-record lows last month, her briefings were stopped once again – perhaps rightly as the pandemic had, it seemed at the time, subsided.

The situation, now, however has changed again.

With 1,212 active cases as of Thursday – the highest since last March, and first over 100, and now over 200 cases being found every day – the island is now worried that, despite the country’s high vaccination rate, the situation may get even further out of hand.

Many questions are being asked: are the cases tourists? Where are they coming from? How many are vaccinated? How many are variant cases? What are the age groups? How many people are receiving treatment in hospital? Should we be worried?

It’s that last question which is the most important – should we be worried about the latest Covid-19 spike?

The answer to this truly depends on the answers to the questions posed above, amongst others.  For instance, if the vast majority of cases are unvaccinated tourists and local transmission of the virus is limited – it is a significantly different situation than Malta’s last spike in March this year.

At this stage, only Health Superintendent Gauci can answer these questions – which is why her briefings should, while cases remain at such high levels, return.

Unfortunately as things stand, health authorities have been sporadic in communicating details about the cases being found: details on Wednesday’s cases were provided by the following morning, but questions sent to authorities about the cases reported over the past weekend are still unanswered. The health authorities should be more forthcoming in giving details pertaining to the numbers they provide daily. It is not enough to just give the number of cases.

There has been some confusion over other matters as well: be it on hotel quarantine procedures, or on which vaccines are accepted and which aren’t – a new piece of guideline which confirmed that Malta would be accepting the vaccine certificates issued by the United Arab Emirates and Turkey was hidden away in a strategy document rather than being formally announced.

As things stand, we need Charmaine Gauci’s briefings back so that the necessary and important details about the current situation can be given out. Amending the daily updates to include certain other details – such as hospital numbers, for instance – would not be a bad idea either.

With many things, effective communication is key – and this situation is no different.

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