Mass gatherings and festa marches should not be allowed to take place so as to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Malta College of Pathologists has said.
“In line with its mission statement of education in disease prevention and its expertise in microbiology and control of infectious diseases, the Malta College of Pathologists is alarmed by the recent cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to a mass gathering event of a purely entertainment value,” the College said.
“As highlighted in previous public statements, COVID-19 is still very much with us – as much as we would wish it otherwise. Anyone who believes that the challenge from this virus is over, shows a disregard to history and obliviousness to the fundamental principles of infectious disease transmission.”
“Just because we have thankfully experienced numerous days with no positive cases, does not in any way infer that the virus is defeated. Like all similar respiratory viruses, it is simply lying low… waiting for the right conditions to rear its frightening head; as last week’s event clearly proves.”
The College of Pathologists issued a statement after Malta confirmed 14 new COVID-19 cases, its largest single-day rise since May, with many of these cases believed to be related to a cluster of infection which stemmed from a recent ‘hotel takeover’ party.
“It is incomprehensible that mass gatherings like these weekend parties, as well as festa afternoon marches, are allowed to take place,” it said. “If one were to design the ideal scenario to maximize COVID-19 spread, it would be these types of events.”
“Large crowds of people, literally touching each other with no face coverings, in various degrees of inebriation and dispersing droplets liberally through shouting and singing.”
“Our public health authorities have rightly insisted on social distancing and face coverings in supermarkets and buses – even in churches. Yet these mass gatherings offer a risk that is ten or even a hundred times higher; and they continue to take place with no real precautions other than a cursory temperature check at best… visually impressive but ultimately ineffectual because of well described super-spreading from asymptomatic individuals, especially the young.”
They warned the situation risks spiralling out of control and that a second lockdown will be inevitable if cases keep rising and deaths start to take place.
“This will bring infinitely more economic pain than disallowing a few mass gatherings over the summer.”
Should mass events be banned?