Covid, Malta government relax measures in spite of situation in hospital

VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – While the Maltese health authorties are registering an increase in the positive cases of coronavirus and as from today started relaxing more anti-Covid measures, the union representing the nurses declared that the main general hospital in Malta is in severe crises because it cannot cope anymore with the influx of new cases.

The number of cases increased over recent days, with the seven-day average of 640 new cases daily. Malta has 7,188 active cases of Covid-19 following the 530 new cases and 249 recoveries in the last 24 hours. The new cases were identified through 2,754 tests, representing a positivity rate of 19.2%. During the last 24 hours, three more deaths were registered, bringing the total number of deaths to 642 since the start of the pandemic.

“Seeing the desperate situation at Mater Dei Hospital, MUMN is urging the health ministry to reduce elective surgery and to start acting responsibly since hospital cannot keep functioning with such a high influx of Covid cases,” the union said. “Mater Dei Hospital is in severe crisis with Covid patients being spread in all wards,” the union added. MUMN said more than 150 Covid patients are spread in all wards and this pose “a high risk of cross infection among the whole hospital.”

The union referred to the nursing shortage caused by the huge amount of nurses in quarantine resulting in several wards having just two or three nurses instead of six nurses in several wards. Pointing out that three wards had to be dedicated fully for Covid patients, MUMN said it had to issue directives during the weekend to ensure that more nurses were added to the roster due to the severe burnout of nurses.

The union said that Mater Dei Hospital has six designated areas which are not meant to be wards but are being used as wards, including corridors, the library and the staff canteen making it harder for the nurses to give the medical care to the patients.

The union also warned Health Minister Chris Fearne that the handling of the situation should not be dictated by political motivations.

Meanwhile, after resisting calls to introduce self-testing, the Maltese government will allow such testing to take place as of this week. Minister Chris Fearne said that this will alleviate the influx of appointments being made for swab tests and is in line with government’s intention to encourage more self-regulation than strict measures. Despite being widely available in many EU countries, self-test kits had been banned in Malta, leading people to shop on the black market.

Minister Fearne added that vulnerable people will be offered a second booster shot and from 13 April children will no longer need to wear a mask in schools. He added that from 12 April, most of those flying to Malta from a red country will need a vaccine or recovery certificate which is not older than 180 days, or a negative PCR which must be done within 72 hours before travelling.

Referring to the situation at the Intensive Care Unit, Fearne said the number of people in intensive care remained low, with five patients currently in the ITU with Covid. This, he said, remains the lowest rate of people in ITU in all of the EU.

Fearne was interviewed over the phone by the state broadcaster after testing positive to Covid-19, days after the end of the election campaign which saw big crowds gather for political events with little regard to Covid protocols.

Source: medNews