Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
Today at 4pm Newsbook.com.mt will be interviewing Dr Tanya Melillo, Public Health Consultant who will be answering the stream of questions which the public has not stopped sending.
She will also go through the process of the coronavirus test: from swab to result. Can they get it wrong? Why is it so effective? Can I have coronavirus and not know?
Journalist Amy Borg will interview Dr Tanya Melillo on Newsbook.com.mt with the questions you have sent.
Dr Melillo: For now, we need to continue practicing social distance. Once we start lifting the measures these will be done gradually. It won't happen overnight. The situation we would like to avoid is thinking it's over only to get a second wave.
Dr Melillo says that as a country we were lucky because the measures were implemented earlier on. She says that at this point there was no need to implement more restrictive measures.
It is important to continue practicing social distancing.
The measures which were taken earlier on are paying off, Dr Melillo remarks.
Dr Melillo remarks that those who live alone most probably suffered the most not only due to coronavirus but due to loneliness.
Dr Melillo explains that by systematically testing all residents one may test negative but might develop symptoms later. She explains that the health authorities are testing residents unit by unit. Those who test positive are then isolated.
Residents at Hal Far open centre are very cooperative and would like to get tested. Despite the language barrier in some cases, they do understand what is going on, Dr Melillo says.
Dr Melillo explains that there is a pandemic response plan in place. The plan takes into account the psychological aspect of the healthcare workers who are working under pressure and especially those who are working in ITU. She says that counselling sessions were being offered to healthcare workers.
Dr Melillo says those at ITU would need a higher dose of concentrated oxygen. These people would be breathing with the help of ventilator.
The doctors will give antibiotics in the case of a secondary bacterial infection.
Dr Melillo says that many are recovering at home because they had mild symptoms. She explains that those being treated at the Infectious Diseases Unit it is most likely because they have chronic illnesses.
Dr Melillo says that the health authorities were working closely to the NGOs. The NGOs have provided leaflets translated into different languages. The health authorities have found assistance from the embassies too.
Unfortunately the Maltese when they see the sun, they go out, she remarks. She reiterates the call to remain home and avoid going to places where others are likely to gather.
Studies show that social distancing and hand washing are effective against the virus, Dr Melillo says.
Dr Melillo says that apart from those who are coming forward through 111, health care workers and residents at Hal Far 'Tent Village' were being tested. She says that in these cases, those who tested positive were not necessarily symptomatic.
Dr Melillo has headed the department for the past 15 years. This means she has experienced past public health challenges such as ebola, zika and H1N1.
She says that coronavirus gave the health authorities more challenges.
"The virus is still one step ahead of us," Dr Melillo says referring that there is not enough information.
Dr Melillo replies in the affirmative. She explains that there is not enough information about the new virus. Studies are currently underway to establish such details. She refers to influenza and highlights that every year one has to take a yearly vaccine.
Such details are not known at this stage to be able to establish what to do next year.
Dr Melillo says that they are still validating the tests since they have proved to be unreliable. The health authorities are getting new kits and validating them before using them on a mass scale.
Dr Melillo explains that the change was in colour and has changed because the kit would have been bought from a different place.
When wearing contact lenses, one should wash their hands thoroughly. Dr Melillo stresses that the importance of washing one hands after wearing glasses. Hand sanitizer can be used to clean one's mobile phone and glasses.
Gloves – no, she says. If one wears gloves but do not wash those gloves frequently with alcohol or hand sanitizer, then it is useless, Dr Melillo explains.
She says that it is not enough to just wear gloves or masks, it is important to be aware of how to wear and remove protective clothing to avoid self-contamination. Health care workers receive training on how to do this.
It ends in a situation of false protection. One would think they are protecting themselves but instead they are making it worse for themselves.
Dr Melillo says that patients receiving chemotherapy should not be afraid. She acknowledges that cancer patients have been through a lot. She explains that it is important to keep to the time allotted. There is nothing wrong in wearing a mask, Dr Melillo says. She reiterates that is important to practise social distancing.
Staff at Mater Dei Hospital are also taking the necessary measures to minimise the risk.
It is important not to miss one's appointment, Dr Melillo says.
Dr Melillo says that many a time, patients realise it's different from the usual symptoms. She urges those concerned to get in touch with the health authorities and take the test.
A different section will call each contact and inform them that they have a fourteen day mandatory quarantine period. Those in quarantine will receive an email.
There is another group who are taking care of those individuals who have tested positive and subsequently recovered.
There are different teams and processes in place, Dr Melillo explains.
Dr Melillo says that the nose bleed will not impact the result.
She explains that results are sent by email or via SMS. In cases where wrong details were given, it is taking longer.
Dr Melillo explains that when someone tests positive for coronavirus, her team would call the patient to announce the result and start contact tracing procedures.
Dr Melillo: It is important to call 111 if you suspect of having developed the symptoms associated with coronavirus. It is important to call and try again if you call during peak times. Individuals are asked for for their personal information. Once this data is inputted into the system, the hubs will receive the information and this will be used to set up the appointment.
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