Geriatricians fear rise in Covid-19 cases in care homes may prove catastrophic

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Geriatric Medicine Society of Malta has called for a public health emergency to be reinstated, expressing fears that Malta may soon face “large-scale tragedies” if the increase in Covid-19 cases in care homes continues unchecked.

In a statement, the GMSM said that the present situation “was predictable, and preventable, had the lifting of restrictions been done in a more responsible manner.” But instead, mass events were allowed to take place earlier in the summer, and within weeks the pandemic made its way to care homes, where – in light of the fact that they are closed community – an exponential rise in cases may easily occur.

“The GMSM is concerned with the number of cases in care homes, as if they continue along the same trajectory we may soon be facing large scale tragedies, such as those seen in other European countries like Italy, Spain, the UK and France, where many residents in care homes succumbed to COVID-19,” the society said. It added that the situation was also causing a large strain on doctors and other healthcare professionals, particularly those working in the community and in acute hospital services.  

In light of present circumstances, therefore, the association echoed the Medical Association of Malta’s request for a state of national health emergency until the situation is brought back under control.

It also emphasised that everyone should have appropriate access to medical and palliative care, and that patients should not be excluded from specialised hospital units on account of their age. It reminded that the Charter on Fundamental Rights on the EU prohibited age-based discrimination.

Earlier in the day, the 17th death linked to Covid-19 in Malta – of a 91-year-old woman – was confirmed by health authorities.