Medical experts on the frontline of dealing with the coronavirus in Malta have praised the country’s first three patients, saying their sense of civic duty meant the island was spared an outbreak.
“These patients were very responsible,” said Charles Mallia Azzopardi, physician of Mater Dei’s Infectious Disease Unit, when asked by Lovin Malta to respond to harsh and sometimes virulent criticism that the patients, a 12-year-old girl and her parents, have been subjected to on social media.
Several people have cast doubt on whether the family had indeed self-quarantined after returning from Northern Italy, stating that they must have left the house to buy food at some point.
However, Mallia Azzopardi said the family had actually had food delivered to their door so as to avoid contact with other people in case they had contracted the virus while on holiday.
“They were very responsible, they didn’t leave the house at all after arriving in Malta and they had food delivered to their door,” he said. “It’s important to send a message that it could have been me, you or anyone and we should respect whoever it is. These particular people were very responsible.”
Prof. Michael Borg, infection control officer at Mater Dei, added that the family deserves a thank you from Maltese society.
“In other countries, the first cases hadn’t self-quarantined, and they ended up spreading the virus to several people before their symptoms developed, making it a huge problem to trace it.”
“These people were so responsible and had such a sense of civic duty that, thanks to them, we managed to isolate this case and will definitely keep it isolated.”
The three patients are being kept in isolation at Mater Dei and Mallia Azzopardi described their condition as “very good, with no indication that it is deteriorating”. However, it is too early to tell when they will be discharged.