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Robert Abela Pledges Rapid COVID-19 Testing At Malta’s Airport But Won’t Return To State Of Emergency

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Rapid COVID-19 testing will be launched at the Malta International Airport in the coming days, Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced.

“The way forward isn’t to close the airport again but to ensure secure travelling and systems to reduce the number of infected arrivals as much as possible,” Abela told a political rally in Balzan this morning. “In the coming days, we’ll increase testing [at the airport] and introduce rapid testing too.”

While Abela didn’t give any details on who the rapid testing will be eligible to, Air Malta has recently called for the deployment of rapid tests for all passengers before flight departure.

Malta recently acquired a shipment of rapid testing kits that give COVID-19 results in around 15 to 30 minutes, a scientific development that the WHO has hailed as a “major milestone” in the world’s fight against the pandemic.

Abela today said the “world can’t stop turning” until a COVID-19 is found and dismissed calls for Malta to enter a period of lockdown in light of a spike in virus cases.

He also rejected a call by PN leader Bernard Grech to declare a new state of public heath emergency, arguing that he doesn’t want to scare people.

“We will implement the measures the Superintendent of Public Health advises us to and improve enforcement of the protocols, but we won’t lock people at home and scare businesses,” he said.

“We must adjust to this new reality by keeping people positive, keeping our feet on the ground and acting according to facts.”

Abela said he is glad people in Malta are living their daily lives, unlike citizens of other countries “who have gone into lockdown, emerged from lockdown and then returned to lockdown”.

“Their daily lives have been completely disrupted, which led to a recession in a number of countries. Meanwhile, a main hotel brand [Hyatt Regency] launched in Malta yesterday, which shows the trust the commercial sector still has in our country.”

“Yesterday, the Malta Developers Association informed me that the last three months have been the best ever for promise of sales, even though everyone was trying to get out of their agreements last May. We could have lost heart when we were faced with the gloomy forecasts, but I never agreed that we should be led by forecasts and always believed resilience can overcome forecasts. That’s we did and will keep on doing.”

Abela also pledged that the upcoming Budget will include sustainable measures to help businesses cope with the impacts of the pandemic, expressing his confidence that the economy will rebound “stronger than ever” in the coming months.

What do you make of the Prime Minister’s comments on COVID-19?

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