We may be at the beginning of the second wave – experts

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

“We may now very well be at the beginning of the second wave” of coronavirus. This is the clear and dire warning of the Malta Association of Public Health Workers (MAPHW). They categorically state that “our health system’s capacity will be rapidly surmounted if measures are relaxed too fast.”

The public health experts up the ante when they state that the public announcements that all is well and that “we are on track to return to normality very soon are misleading and dangerous.”

“We should learn from the tragedies unfolding in our neighbouring countries and avoid an overwhelming resurgence of cases,” says MAPHW.

The alarm sounded by these experts contrasts with the upbeat attitude of the Prime Minister last Sunday on One TV when he criticized those who are saying that we can be entering the second wave. According to the Prime Minister waves are best found in the sea which the people must go out and enjoy. He said that people should not be made to fear a second wave.

Cases higher than other European countries

The experts in public health sternly warn that: 

  • the number of active cases is increasing again.
  • The R factor has been constantly back over 1 for the past week.
  • Our number of new cases per capita is higher than that of Italy, Spain, Germany, and France.

The Malta Association of Public Health Workers echoes the statement of the Director of WHO-Europe who has claimed there is “no room for complacency”. They add that despite “ best efforts, our health system’s capacity will be rapidly surmounted if measures are relaxed too fast and if the population ceases to respect social distancing, mask and hygiene etiquette.”

They urge government and policymakers to ensure that public health principles, epidemiological considerations and a sound evidence base set the pace for the responsible reversal of measures, and their timely reintroduction should the R factor increase again.

Whilst the experts acknowledge the devastating social, economic and mental health consequences of the restrictive measures that have been taken so far they state that things will only get worse if the outbreak gets out of control.

Ultimately, the economy is dependent on a healthy population. Let us walk this tight rope to a “new normal” with our heart in the right place continuing to put health first, otherwise, the price to pay in lives lost may be dear.

Positive things done acknowledged

The Malta Association acknowledges the positive things achieved so far due to which Malta has been applauded for its exemplary response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In concrete terms, they refer to the “concerted action by the COVID Public Health Response Team, Health Services and a whole of government approach to COVID-19 policy prioritizing health drove this success.” They also praise the work of the Superintendent of Public Health, the partial lockdown and the daily swab testing rate among other things.

But the Association adds that the real effort starts now as the government must carefully balance the emergency response with the societal and economic impacts of easing restrictive measures at a pace that will not overwhelm the health services, public health capacity, or endanger the lives of our vulnerable population and healthcare workers. The experts exhort all to stick to public health measures that have protected all so well,  renew the commitment to maintain social distancing, avoid unnecessary contacts and trips outdoors and promote the correct use of masks in the community. The need for education and enforcement is highlighted

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