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Head Of Malta’s COVID-19 Team ‘Wasn’t Axed, But Redirected To Original Duties’, Ministry Says

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Kenneth Grech, the head of Malta’s COVID-19 public health response team, was not axed from his position but rather has been “redirected” to his original pre-pandemic duties.

Speaking to Lovin Malta, the Ministry for Health denied that Grech was removed from his post due to a recent dispute between the government and the Malta Union of Teachers over the reopening of schools amid a spike in cases. 

The Times of Malta had earlier claimed that Grech had advised the Education Ministry, its Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry Frank Fabri, and other relevant stakeholders to shut down schools.

The advice, the report says, was leaked to the MUT, who then called a two-day strike over the issue. Schools have since reopened following negotiations between MUT and the government.

This comes after the Medical Association of Malta revealed that an unnamed coordinator had been “removed after having the courage to recommend caution on the consequences for the re-opening of the schools”.

In a statement, the Ministry said:

“During the pandemic, the team of public health experts working on this strategy, which included Dr Grech, was diluted as their focus shifted on COVID-related issues. Since deadlines have approached, and to prevent the risk of missing out on millions of EU funds for this sector, the Health Authorities are redirecting experts back to their original duties.” 

“The Chief Medical Officer required Dr Grech’s expertise to make sure that the strategy is on track. It is for this reason that he has been asked to focus on the work he was in charge of before the pandemic.”

“The Health Authorities are doing their best to handle the current pandemic situation whilst preparing for the future of the health sector after COVID-19.”

The Minister thanked Grech, and all the public health, for their work during the pandemic.

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