Paul Pace, president of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses, has taken Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci to task after the country registered a record 510 new COVID-19 cases today.
“If the Prime Minister was going to act naively about measures and enforcement, I’d have expected Charmaine Gauci to speak out,” Pace told Lovin Malta. “That journalist was right to ask whether she should resign [at last week’s press conference] because she shouldn’t have sided with the Prime Minister.”
He warned Gauci is “just saving her own job” instead of acting as “the shield of the people”.
Pace harked back to the dismissal of Kenneth Grech, who led Malta’s COVID-19 response team, until he was removed last January, shortly after advising the government to keep schools closed after the Christmas holidays.
Although the Health Ministry denied his removal had anything to do with his advice on schools, Pace said it proved the existence of a split in the government’s medical advice.
Indeed, while Grech advocated for the closure of schools, Gauci argued that keeping them open will actually reduce COVID-19 cases because it will result in fewer social activities.
“Charmaine Gauci’s statement that COVID-19 cases will decrease if schools remain open was irresponsible; I haven’t heard a single public health physician round the world use the logic she used,” Pace said.
“I think Dr Grech has now been proven right that drastic action is needed.”
Warning that Mater Dei’s ITUs are in a critical state, with doctors having to prioritise care depending on how likely patients are to survive, Pace called for an immediate lockdown.
“If you get sick with cancer and a doctor tells you that everything will be fine, he’ll be taking you for a ride,” he said. “The Prime Minister never realised that there can be no half measures where public health is concerned – it’s either 100% or 0%, which is why other governments locked down early.”
“Lockdown should be about what is necessary, not about what is popular.
“If a doctor tells you that you need an operation, you know you need one, and when we started registering 200-300 cases a day it became clear that contact tracing had failed and that draconian messages were required. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
“Enforcement was weak, but last weekend they carried out a show of force on picnickers in Ta’ Qali… it’s a sign of panic because they know they’re losing votes, so they decided to act tough with families sitting down for a picnic in the middle of a field.”
“They did nothing in the past three to five weeks, and now they tried to do everything in a single weekend.”
Malta confirmed 510 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, a record single-day rise since the start of the pandemic. Calls have grown for the government to impose new restrictions, with Opposition Leader Bernard Grech calling for the nation to declare a public health emergency.
Health sources have informed Lovin Malta that 18 COVID-19 patients, as well nine former COVID-19 patients, are currently receiving intensive treatment.