Maltese led to believe ‘Covid-19 was over’ ahead of pandemic’s second wave

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

In a recently-published paper, a group of medical professionals – including Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci – have lamented that inconsistent messages gave people the mistaken impression that the Covid-19 pandemic was effectively over in Malta, paving the way for a second wave that has proven to be far stronger than the first.

The paper, bearing the name “Mass Events Trigger Malta’s Second Peak After Initial Successful Pandemic Suppression,” was authored by academic Sarah Cuschieri, from the University of Malta’s Anatomy Department, Medical Association of Malta president Martin Balzan, Gauci, Mater Dei Hospital chief operating officer Steve Agius and consultant paediatrician Victor Grech, and as its name suggests, highlights mass events’ key role in the resurgence of the pandemic in Malta.

But the group also laid the blame on the inconsistent messages disseminated “from some sectors outside health reassuring the public that everything is under control and Malta is open for business,” thus giving “false signals that Covid-19 was over and all touristic activities could resume without limitation.”

Though the paper does not identify these “sectors outside health,” it appears to refer to the reassurances made from some elements of the government – not least Prime Minister Robert Abela – as well as tourism lobbies.

Cuschieri et al also emphasised that since Malta is an island, “the potential for containment would have been relatively simple and effective,” suggesting that the situation was badly mishandled by the authorities.

“In a matter of days, Malta rapidly transitioned from the ‘poster child of Europe’s COVID-19 success’ to a high-risk country,” they lamented.

They emphasised that in such an unprecedented situation, protecting the health of the population should take centre stage, but added that there was now  the need to regain the public’s trust.

“Ultimately, we are all in this pandemic together, and prevention, containment and mitigation along with public cooperation is the key especially with the influenza season around the corner,” they concluded.