Mandatory quarantine for Ħal Far residents to prevent spread of infection; PN reaction
A mandatory quarantine with immediate effect has been imposed on the Open Centre at Ħal-Far, where around 1000 residents live. This was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne in a press conference held on Sunday evening.
On Sunday, 14 Covid-19 new cases were confirmed, 7 of which are residents at the Hal-Far Open Centre. Later, another Hal-Far resident tested positive bringing the total to 8 but this will be included in Monday’s statistics.
Minister Fearne said that this is not an issue of race or religion and that everyone will be treated with dignity. Dr Fearne said that quarantine is the strongest tool possible to prevent the spread of the virus in Malta. He also reiterated that people should stay indoors as much as possible.
“We have already made it clear that the virus is spread when you meet someone who is infected. People who are over 65 and those who are vulnerable are obliged to stay indoors except for essential errands. We are recommending that everyone else should also stay inside.”
Superintendent of Health Charmaine Gauci said that on April 8, a 33-year-old person tested positive for the virus. Whoever was living in the same cabin with him was quarantined. Of these, two tested positive.
On April 4, a 26-year-old from Somalia and a resident at the same Centre tested positive for the virus. Here again, the persons living in the same cabin were quarantined.
Prof Gauci said another 31-year-old tested positive, in addition to another resident.
The measures taken today – i.e.that those living in the Ħal Far Open Centre were to be placed in mandatory quarantine because of the risk of the virus spreading, are not solely in respect of those living in the same cabin but across the entire Centre.
Professor Gauci said that this information could not be released on Sunday morning because of the measures that had to be taken to stop the spread of the virus.Those who are vulnerable who live in the Open Centre will be relocated to another place while the Red Cross will be setting up a small medical clinic on site.
On his part, Interior Minister Byron Camileri said that this news was communicated to all the residents when they returned to the Centre at 6pm on Sunday evening. He went on to explain that police forces were deployed to ensure that quarantine was maintained and those breaching the quarantine would be subject to the same €3,000 fine as anyone else. With reference to the inspections being carried out, Minister Camilleri said that 81 people had been fined for being in groups of more than three people and were fined €100 each.
He appealed to the employers of these residents to cooperate and not to request these people to report to work.
Meanwhile, in its reaction, the PN said that the quarantine measures at the Open Centre were taken too late. It said that ten days ago it had warned of the danger of the virus spreading at these centres and at the prison. It added that the Government should address the crowding of these centres even if it needs to find alternative detention sites.
The atmosphere at the Ħal Far Open Centre shortly after the quarantine was announced.