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‘Don’t Forget About Us’: Malta’s COVID-19 Test Centres Brace Themselves For A Hectic Festive Season

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As people prepare to unwind and adjust to the unusual Christmas this year, Malta’s front liners are bracing for a hectic festive season.

“We’ll still be working our 12 hour shifts Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve in testing centres,” Cristina Sollami, a 24-year-old nurse working at a Northern swabbing centre told Lovin Malta.

“We’re not slowing down – we’re still doing 400 swabs a day,” she said on a video call while suited up in protective clothing on her break.

Sollami said patients are using swab tests to justify going to parties, family gatherings and travelling for the festive season.

“To a certain extent, it’s a little painful. It feels useless if you’re doing a test before gathering for celebrations.”

“Around three hundred people a day ask us to ‘hurry up’ with the results because they have places to be. It’s literally impossible.”

“I’m just bracing for a mid-January spike. When we ask if patients are getting swabbed because they’re in contact with a COVID-19 case, the general response is they’re doing it before celebrations.”

“People are meeting their families, Gozo is booked, illegal parties are going to take place,” the nurse continued, saying it’s fueling their fear of the aftermath.

Sollami has been working on the frontlines of the pandemic since the outbreak began in March. While she and her colleagues have adjusted to the long hours, mental exhaustion has kicked in.

“We’re just burning through the days at this point,” she said.

The nurse also said staff still face some brash attitudes by some patients.

“We encounter dozens of patients who feel entitled to shout at us or treat us badly,” she said, adding that she had just faced a tense confrontation when a patient shouted at her colleagues because they couldn’t understand her.

Meanwhile, she continued, numbers are lower because they’re doing less daily swab tests.

“I’m not saying don’t meet your family or leave your elderly members alone this Christmas, but please be safe, keep your most vulnerable safe, and don’t forget about us either,” Sollami finished.

What do you make of the nurse’s story? 

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