Reactions to COVID-19 announcement pour in on Newsbook Hour special


Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Following the announcement of the first case of COVID-19 in Malta, interviewed MAM President Dr Martin Balzan and Economist Dr J P Fabri for perspective on the current situation.

The Economic impact

Economist Dr JP Fabri said that the World Bank is setting up a special fund to hep those economies most hit by the coronavirus pandemic. He outlined three main effects which this pandemic is estimated to have on economies:

  1. low productivity due to workers away from work, some factories will have to close.
  2. impact on trade levels as supply dries up
  3. tourism will be sorely hit and tourism-based economies will suffer

Dr Fabri said that economic models do not factor in long term effects and the effects will need to be re-calculated. Italy is currently asking the EU to re-assess the budgetary submissions. Italy is asking the EU to take cognisance of the fact that It will be giving industry a boost.

Dr Fabri said that while the world has been hovering on the brink of recession, it is still too early to say that the coronavirus was the final nail in the coffin which threw the world economy into recession.

MAM President reacts

MAM President Dr Martin Balzan said that the Doctors are satisfied that the precautionary and operational set up by the government on the diagnosis and containment of the coronavirus in Malta is sufficient. Prodded on the need to close public spaces Dr Balzan said that there was no need for such measures but emphasised the need that persons with any flu-like symptoms should immediately stay at home.

Joint press release

Meanwhile in a joint press release, the Medical Association and UHM Voice of the Workers expressed their regret that as expected Malta has identified the first case of coronavirus infection, clearly a person who has travelled to Italy and returned sick. MAM and all local health experts said that they had made it very clear that keeping the 20 flights a week from northern Italy, combined with a dubious voluntary quarantine, were inadequate measures destined to fail.

MAM and UHM appealed to the government to now heed the advice of health authorities and stop with immediate effect all flights from the high risk areas in northern Italy and implement mandatory quarantine measures were necessary according to quarantine law, so as to avoid an epidemic with grave consequences on the health of the people and on the national economy.