MAM urges government to ban flights from Northern Italy; Insists soft approach failed

coronavirus testing
Facebook / MABS-Malta Association of Biomedical Scientists

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Medical Association of Malta has once again reiterated its call for all flights from Northern Italy to be cancelled and to order mandatory quarantine for flights from other Italian cities.

In a statement on Sunday, MAM noted that the Italian government has passed a decree effectively putting the whole region of Lombardy and 14 provinces under lockdown.

The association warned that failure to stop flights from Northern Italy would see MAM taking “whatever measure necessary to protect its members and the general public.”

The decree includes the power to impose fines on anyone caught entering or leaving Lombardy until 3 April. It also provides for the banning of all public events, closing cinemas, theatres, gyms, discos and pubs. Funerals and weddings will also be prohibited and leave for healthcare workers has been cancelled.

The association noted that despite the lockdown which has been just declared in Italy, flights from and to Italy continue “unabated”. Two more flights from Italy to Malta are scheduled for Sunday.

“Medical advice of all the consultants in the Department of Medicine at Mater Dei recommended this ban one week ago. All trade unions and social partners with the exception of MHRA have already insisted to stop these flights,” MAM maintained.

On Saturday, the first three cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Malta. The first patient, a 12-year-old girl, and her family had just returned from a holiday in Italy and went on self-quarantine. It was only later that the girl developed flu like symptoms and later tested positive to the virus. The family was immediately isolated and quarantined at Mater Dei hospital. Later on Saturday evening, her parents also tested positive to the virus.

“The 3 cases in Malta are the result of a family who travelled to Northern Italy despite the advice not to do so. While this family was lucky to get mild illness, not everybody will be so lucky. They have created a grave risk for all the half a million inhabitants of the Maltese islands,” the statement by the Medical Association of Malta reads.

Only people with special permission will be allowed to leave the region.

“This was ordered because the situation in Italy is very grave with the epidemic spreading like wildfire to thousands, with hundreds of deaths and intensive care admissions,” the statement reads.

Italy is the hardest hit European country outside of China with the medical association noting that the European Member State is moving to a situation which was already adopted in China where the virus originated where the only remedy was complete lockdown.

“It is clear that the Italian authorities just like China have failed to stop the epidemic with their soft approach,” MAM stated.

The association also lambasted the World Health Organisation, saying that “WHO’s failure to recommend travel bans has resulted in a global pandemic.”

Looking at Singapore and Hong Kong, MAM said that the two jurisdictions managed to control the epidemic following a travel ban.

“For the above reasons MAM appeals to the government to stop all flights from Norther Italy with immediate effect and to order mandatory quarantine for flights from other cities from Italy. The soft approach is a proven failure, let us protect our country and not have to go into lockdown after thousands get sick,” MAM said.