Prime Minister Robert Abela has played down calls to close schools over concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, stating that medical experts have so far advised him to keep schools open.
“There’s no need for panic or alarm and the situation is completely under control,” Abela told a press conference today. “If there was cause for panic at schools, then I’d say so. We’re not going to hide anything from the people, we’re going to be realistic and we’re going to keep our feet on the ground.”
“I understand that parents are gripped by a sense of fear but we shouldn’t let this fear overcome reality.”
Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic and some regions of Spain have closed down schools in recent days in an attempt to clamp down on the virus.
He said he is in continuous contact with Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci over the coronavirus situation and that her advice so far is for schools to remain open.
“If the situation changes, then it will change, but as it stands, Charmaine Gauci hasn’t given me any indication that such directives must be issued. If they need to be issued then they will, but all our advice right now if for schools to remain open. There’s no cause for alarm or panic among parents.”
During the press conference, Abela announced a ban on mass outdoor activities involving more than 2,000 people and indoor activities involving more than 750 people as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus.
He also announced the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee which will recommend measures to the Maltese government on how to brace for the economic impact that the virus is expected to cause.
“These extraordinary circumstances will leave an impact on the global economy,” he said. “Malta is part of the world and we will feel the impact too. Again, I urge for peace of mind; our economy is strong and resilient and our finances are strong enough to completely cope with this impact.”