Malta’s union of nurses and midwives (MUMN) has described the self-quarantine advised by the government for people returning from countries which have been seriously hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus as a joke, warning that the public health authorities aren’t actually following up on whether their directives are being obeyed.
“The quarantine issue is a joke since Public Health is not actually checking on any staff who are supposed to be ‘under quarantine’,” MUMN President Paul Pace said in a statement. “Members of MUMN reported to MUMN that staff arriving from Bergamo returned to work the following day of their arrival in Malta ignoring completely the quarantine ordered.”
Last week, the Health Ministry advised people returning from Northern Italy, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Iran and South Korea to self-quarantine for 14 days in case they had got infected by the coronavirus.
Anyone who develops a fever, cough or shortness of breath within the self-quarantine period has been advised to contact their doctor and avoid visiting health centres or the Emergency Department at Mater Dei.
Besides the inefficacy of the self-quarantine directives, the MUMN also warned that they go against the public service management code and this because quarantine leave is being automatically deducted from their vacation leave.
“Such a system, which was imposed by the Office of the Prime Minister without consultation with MUMN, would mean that all hospital staff would rightly so not inform the Human Resources Department of their respective hospitals and would return to work just after arriving in Malta,” Pace said. “MUMN is also disappointed about how Public Health is administrating the whole Coronavirus virus contingency plan, which to this very day is being kept under wraps.”
“With such an arrogance from Public Health, MUMN has no other option but to take measures to safeguard its members from measures which do not make sense at all, such as this imposed quarantine”.
Times of Malta reported today that social partners will convene next week to draft a set of guidelines for public and private sector employees who have been advised to self-quarantine.