Watch: “For now, stricter health measures won’t mean closing schools” – Fearne

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne stated that he does not agree with the strike ordered by the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT). He said that should stricter health measures be implemented in the coming weeks to curb the spread of Covid-19, one of them wouldn’t be closing schools.

He said this on Thursday afternoon, during an interview with Fr Joe Borg on Newsbook Q&A.

Fearne went on to say that if schools had to be shut down, they would be, as health remains the main priority. However, to close the schools for 2 days due to industrial action doesn’t make sense.

He added that children going to school is more imperative than adults going out to band clubs, especially since education took a backseat during 2020.

“16,000 people to be vaccinated by end of January”

Minister Fearne said that another 450 people are to be vaccinated today, and that this number will increase week by week. He stated that by end of January, the target is to have vaccinated 16,000 people.

He added that extra doses of the vaccine will be handed out to other countries who do not have access to the vaccine due to financial reasons.

Slow vaccination process due to powder-to-liquid issue

Fearne explained that the slow process of vaccination is slow for a reason. This is because the vaccine, in powder form, must be turned into liquid, and that this is a delicate process which must be done with care. Otherwise, there is risk of wasting doses.

Genetic sequencing to identify new variant

On the new variant of Covid-19, Fearne said that genetic sequencing is ongoing to identify its genetic makeup. This is being done on all positive tests and on all those arriving from the UK. This is a process that takes several days.

3 cases of the new variant have been confirmed in Malta so far.

Asked about the Southern African variant, Fearne said that Malta does not have cases borne of this.

Business as usual in May?

The Minister said that business as usual cannot commence after May, as a new normal must be ushered in. He added that we must still stay vigilant.

He explained that herd immunity can be achieved in two ways; everyone gets the virus, or via vaccination. He said that once 50% of the population is vaccinated, herd immunity would be on the horizon.