“We’ve been introducing gradual measures which people can follow” – Abela

Partit Laburista leader Robert Abela said that he has vehemently resisted taking extreme measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. He explained that while he understands while some quarters have called for a lockdown, people would have had enough of following strict measures leading to non-cooperation from the public.

Speaking during an interview on the party’s station, Abela said that so far the majority of the population has adhered to the instructions being given by the health authorities.

So far, 149 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Malta, roughly half of the cases were travel related and the other half were cases of local transmission. Various measures have been implemented to curb the spread including the closure of all educational institutions until June, the closure of establishments providing non-essential services among others.

During the interview, Abela touched upon the need to follow the advice by the health authorities and the recently announced financial package aimed at mitigating the negative impact on Malta’s economy exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In other countries it is being called lockdown”

Abela warned that it was important not to arrive at a lockdown. Referring to the measures which were announced on Thursday, a lockdown for those over 65 years and categories of people deemed vulnerable, Abela said that while in other countries these measures are being called a “lockdown”, this is not a lockdown since they can go out if absolutely necessary.

He referred to the criticism leveled against him after he sent a conflicting message on Friday evening and said that “it is not true we’re disagreeing”, referring to Health Minister Chris Fearne.

He insisted that the government’s approach in the current situation is to implement measures gradually and ensure that the public continues cooperating.

An “ambitious” and “aggressive” package

Speaking about the financial package announced last week, Abela described it as “ambitious and aggressive”. The package which was announced following strong criticism from many social partners consists of a direct cash injection which costs some €70 million a month. Abela said that the situation can persist over a couple of months even after the pandemic is over.

He said that there will be more financial measures implemented in the coming months. Asked about the possibility of abuse, Abela said that the financial package agreed with the social partners was based on the premise that there will be no abuse. He noted that many businesses are now diversifying their business due to the outbreak.

Wrong to think that Gozo is Covid-19 free

Gozo due to its double insularity has been badly hit by the negative economic impact, Abela remarked.

Any patient which would test positive for coronavirus on Gozo is being brought to Malta on a chartered ferry and treated at Mater Dei Hospital. On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne briefed the media about Gozo’s preparedness against coronavirus and the measures being taken at the once public hospital, the Gozo General Hospital.

Abela stressed that while the number of patients from Gozo is low, it is wrong to think and assume that the sister island is coronavirus free.

An episode to rethink our basic values

Abela described the pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate what really matters.He said that in the end, “money means nothing” and one’s priorities are the family, unity and health.

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