From Saturday, vulnerable groups – those over 65 years, and those who live with them – have been ordered to stay home for their own protection. During a Press conference, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne stated that this measure was being made on the basis of scientific evidence of the rate of infection and on the basis of mathematical models of how the epidemic was spreading, with half the cases now spreading within the community.
He said that the new set of measures will affect 118,000 people and that individuals under 65 with a medical condition will be individually informed by letter from the Government’s Chief Medical doctor. Dr Fearne said that this also applied to relatives living with them.
“Those who already live with vulnerable people have two options: either to find a new alternative residence between today and Saturday and come and go as they please; or else to stay indoors.
Minister Fearne said that those people who go and look after these people every day have to follow the same rules.
Among those who can not leave home are the chronically sick, inter alia those who suffer from diabetes and who are on insulin, those undergoing chemotherapy in the past six months, people who have had some kind a transplant, pregnant women, people with HIV, those on steroids, heart-failure clinic patients, those with respiratory conditions and who received hospital treatment in the last year, and those who needed surgery in the last six months. Dr. Fearne said that these can only go out for medical appointments. The Minister said there would not be fines for anyone breaching these directives but said that it was in their interest to follow the rules.
Minister Fearne said that employees who live with these people will be given quarantine leave.
Asked by Television Malta if this was going to disrupt the agricultural sector in Malta which is mostly worked by the elderly Dr Fearne did not exclude that certain sectors could be exempt from lockdown.
“There could be some exceptions to the rule – individual exemptions or entire categories could be authorised.”
Dr Fearne announced another measure prohibiting groups congregating in public in excess of five people. In such cases the Police will be empowered to disperse such groups and to ensure that they at least two metres apart. This was being done because a number of people were still being seen out in public.