Coronavirus: Screening process started on passengers arriving at Malta airport
A screening process on body temperature of passengers arriving at the airport in Malta started in order to identify if they have fever, which is one of the coronavirus symptoms. In the harbour, stevedores refused to unload cargo arriving from Italy if certain precautions are not taken. While health authorities are increasing precautionary measures, the Public Health Superintendent Chairmaine Gauci told TVM that currently there is no Coronavirus case in Malta.
The airport screening is being made through specific cameras which detect high temperatures on passengers arriving in Malta. Professor Charmaine Gauci said that while she is aware that the equipment is not infallible, it is a means to identify early suspected cases of the coronavirus, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
“Whoever arrives at the airport will be screened before the person collects the luggage; these proceed one by one in front of the specific cameras so that if a person has fever, he/she is identified, an alarm sounds and proceed to the airport’s clinic and if necessary tests are also carried out”.
She added that the screening process will also start in the coming days at the cruiseliners passenger and catamaran terminals at the Grand Harbour. In the wake of an increase in coronavirus cases in Italy, stevedores refused to unload cargo arriving from Italy if certain precautions are not taken.
Transport Malta is seeking a solution to ensure that harbour work continues without danger. A TM spokesperson expressed confidence that work at the harbour will return to normal from tomorrow after preventive measures are taken.
Asked about the use of masks as a precaution, Professor Gauci stated that these are not necessarily effective, mostly if they are wet and are no longer a prevention against the virus.
“Our appeal goes to preventive means, such as those we apply on respiratory disease. Persons who are sick do not go out; children are not sent to school. If one sneezes or coughs, the person should use a tissue and throw it away. Hand washing is a very important thing”.
The Public Health Superintendent stated that currently there is no case of coronavirus in Malta.
“We have found no case of coronavirus, however we are on alert so that if there are persons who are close to a case definition of breathing symptoms and had traveled to any country affected by coronavirus and returned to Malta within 14 days, we have the means to evaluate the cases and if necessary do the tests”.
Prof. Gauci added that persons with symptoms of sneezing, fever and breathing problems should stay at home and contact the Health Department.
“If persons have questions or have symptoms, they should not go to the emergency or health centres because if someone has coronavirus, the contact tracing will be more difficult and it is important that we detect cases early”.
Asked why authorities did not issue a notice to people to refrain from traveling to areas in the north of Italy, Prof. Gauci stated that currently there is no restriction on travel. She added that, however, one has to consider the risk in places where there is the virus.
Even the Church issued directives for Holy Communion to be administered only by hand and that hands are disinfected before Communion. The University of Malta called for a research on coronavirus as part of the European effort in finding a treatment for the virus.