The government has imposed a lockdown for people older than 65, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses as a preventative measure against the spread of COVID-19, effective as of Saturday, Health Minister Chris Fearne has announced.
People with chronic illnesses include people with heart failure, respiratory conditions, patients on chemotherapy, immunosuppressed patients, patients on renal dialysis and people with insular dependent diabetics. Everyone who falls within this category will receive a letter at home within the coming days to inform them they fall within this category.
They will only be allowed to leave home if they have medical appointments or on special disposition given the Superintendent of Public Health. Fearne said this special disposition could be granted to healthcare workers older than 65 but that the government won’t force them to work if they feel uncomfortable doing so.
People with a job who cannot work from home will be entitled to special quarantine leave
Fearne said that over 118,000 people will have to stay at home as a result of these measures and urged their relatives, friends and neighbours to keep an eye out for them by maintaining contact with them at a distance and by helping them out through other means if needs be.
“We are introducing these measures to protect people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus,” he said. “It is in their best interest, to protect their health.”
Meanwhile, police have also been empowered to break up public gatherings of more than five people, even if they are spontaneous, ensuring they stand at least two metres away from each other. This new law will be effective immediately.
These are the latest in a number of drastic but necessary measures the government has rolled out over the past weeks to combat a significant outbreak of COVID-19 in Malta.
The state has blocked all flights and closed all non-essential shops, non-essential services, bars, restaurants, and gyms, among others.
An economic downturn is predicted over the next few months, and government experts estimate that industries like tourism will be effectively shut down until December.
The total cases of coronavirus in Malta have now reached 134 after five new cases were confirmed this morning.
All of the coronavirus patients are in good health, while a 61-year-old man who became Malta’s first critical case last week is no longer in a critical condition, although he remains in ITU.
Two have officially recovered while the majority are isolating at home. The rest of the patients are receiving treatment at Mater Dei and St Thomas Hospital. They are being treated through pain relief medication like paracetamol.
Doctors are continuously monitoring the situation of the patients who are isolating at home.
If you believe you are suffering from the coronavirus, follow the following guidelines:
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, as you would with the flu.
Do not go to Mater Dei, the emergency department, health centres, private clinics, or pharmacies. Stay home and call the public health authority’s helpline 111.
If you are returning from any country, do not break self-quarantine rules or you will be subject to a €10,000 fine.
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