Current Affairs
Agreement reached on precautions for port workers handling merchandise from ships

The Coronavirus has continued to spread through various countries in Europe, while in Italy, which has the most cases in Europe, appears to be entering into a recession because of the virus. The Maltese Health Authorities have once again confirmed that to date there are no cases of the Coronavirus in Malta although preparations are in hand in case it does enter the country, despite the precautions which are being taken.

Over the last few hours, an agreement was reached about the precautions which need to be taken by port workers at the Grand Harbour to unload the merchandise from the ships which have come from Italy. A spokesperson from Transport Malta said that the agreement was reached before the arrival of two ships with a trailer which contained supplies for local supermarkets.

Tuesday was characterised by a wave of anxiety which spread among people about the Coronavirus, but things appear to have calmed down somewhat after doctors reassured the public that while the virus is still active, there is no need for panic.  The Supt for Public Health, Prof Charmaine Gauci confirmed to TVM that to date there are no cases of the virus while precautions continue to be taken and a plan is in hand for every eventuality, including finding places to isolate patients if they contract the virus.

Speaking on the programme Ras imb Ras on TVM, virologist Dr Chris Barbara said that there are many viruses which are more aggressive than the Coronavirus and has appealed for calm.

Asked whether the panic is justified or not, Dr Barbara replied, “Absolutely not.”

”It is spread through droplets through our breathing, therefore I may definitely be exposed if I am with someone else, or if I touch my hands with something infected and then touch my face, then I will get the virus. But there is no cause for alarm. There are worse viruses which may cause problems.”

Dr Barbara who manages the labs at Mater Dei said that the authorities have been working on this since last month,  holding meetings on how they can prepare for the Coronavirus.

”There is a contingency plan and a strategy is being drawn up of where we can put these patients if we have a large quantity of infections. A plan is being drafted and I can tell you that within a few days we will have a concrete strategy.”

Dr Barbara said that around the world 2,500 have died from the Coronavirus. He explained that many of them are elderly people who had other complications, while 80,000 people who had the virus have recovered. He added that more deaths were registered by the seasonal influenza, even though there is a vaccination for it.  He said that advances have been made for a cure for the Coronavirus as well.

”In this case, we do not yet have a vaccine but we know that in America and Australia they are very close and are trying the injection out on people.”

The nurses and midwives union, the MUMN however has reiterated its position that it believes the country is not prepared for the virus, as there are only 14 beds at the hospital’s isolation ward, and there is a lack of training among the nurses.

The Malta Union of Teachers is recommending a  series of precautions in schools. These include for unnecessary activities not be held,  including assemblies in closed spaces.  It also appealed for soap and hand sanitisers to be made available in schools and for teachers not to correct the homework of students who are sick.


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