The Minister of Foreign Affairs has urged Maltese who are abroad and want to return to Malta not to delay it further, explaining that it has become more difficult to go from one country to another. In the meantime, Malta has been crucial for the repatriation of a number of foreign residents, in internationally recognised work efforts.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has stepped up its work to assist, in collaboration with other governments, the repatriation of foreigners wishing to return home.
Minister Evarist Bartolo said that Malta also found the help of countries like Germany to bring back Maltese who were in far flung countries – where there are no Air Malta flights.
“If we have people in Latin America, in the Philippines, in Asia, Africa and other places where Air Malta does not fly, then we are collaborating with the German Government, so part of aircraft seats are reserved to bring the Maltese back to Europe, where we can help to get them back to Malta.”
Minister Bartolo called on the Maltese who are abroad to understand the seriousness of the situation and urged them to come back. He explained that the difficulty of flying has increased, especially in countries that have stopped traveling – both by air and sea.
“I was talking to Foreign Ministers from other countries, for instance India, where you are told that nothing can be done until April 14 because of a total lockdown order that will not permit any flights to be made. There are other countries that have done the same so we need our people to understand how much more difficult it has become to move from one country to another now. ”
The minister added that although the repatriation service started a few days after the first case of COVID-19 broke out in Malta four weeks ago, there are countless
Maltese that still need to return. Maltese who are stuck abroad and want to return can call 2204 2200.
The Minister pointed out that while there was a great deal of collaboration between countries with regard to this process, the same could not be said for medical devices such as ventilators. In their regard, a fierce war was on, the world over. “We have heard of stories where containers have even been stolen, where an aircraft carrying medical apparatus and due to take off was stopped on the runway and the appartus taken away or taken to another country.”
Minister Bartolo said the Maltese Government was working on bringing in more ventilators. In the meantime, Malta has received half a million masks from the owner of the company Praude Asset Management, lawyer Massimo Malvestio, which were manufactured in the Italian region of Veneto.
Parliamentary Secretary Deo Debattista explained these are single-use masks and will be used by various entities such as the Armed Forces, police, and workers in the Cleaning and Maintenance Division. He said if people get used to it – masks like these can also be used in places like supermarkets. “If used properly masks reduce the chance of spreading infection, but nothing is better than social distancing.”
The first of these masks were used by the 242 Italians who left Malta on Sunday on the Virtu Ferries catamaran headed to Sicily. In collaboration with the Italian Embassy, more than one thousand six hundred Italians living in Malta returned to Italy after this crisis.