Opposition leader Bernard Grech has urged the health authorities to update its COVID-19 travel rules to allow Maltese residents travelling from ‘dark red’ countries to quarantine at home.
Grech spoke out following major national outrage at the way the authorities are treating Rachel Umanah, a young girl with Down Syndrome who is being made to spend two weeks at a quarantine hotel following her upcoming return from Nigeria.
Her brother Daniel and mother Carmen have warned she tends to go into a tantrum when she’s locked inside an unfamiliar room.
“The measures we take need to always be proportional,” Grech said. “While it is good that those entering Malta from dark red zones should follow a quarantine period, it is unreasonable that people who have an alternative place to stay end up doing their quarantine in a hotel against a payment.”
“These are all unnecessary financial burdens on Maltese families, particularly in cases such as Rachel’s, a person with special needs whose family presence can make a big difference.”
“There is an urgent need for transparency when it comes to quarantine and sensitivity from the health authorities.”
Several politicians, including PL MEP Alex Agius Saliba and PN MPs Ryan Callus and Clyde Puli have urged the health authorities to give Rachel an exemption or even change the rules for Maltese residents altogether.
PL MP Oliver Scicluna, a former commissioner for people with disabilities, said he understands the concerns raised by the Umanah family.
“We must realise once and for all that people with certain conditions deserve to be understand and that we cannot put everyone in the same basket.”
Malta currently has only two officially recognized quarantine facilities – Marina Hotel in St George’s Bay and ST Sliema Hotel.
People are being forced to pay €1,400 for their two-week stay, which only includes bed and breakfast.
Should Malta update its travel quarantine laws?