Prime Minister Robert Abela has said Malta is reaping the fruit of his decision not to impose another lockdown or quasi-lockdown in the wake of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
“When we saw the infection rate was on the rise, we prioritised public health but with calibrated measures,” Abela said on ONE Radio today. “We could have been aggressive like those countries which went into a total lockdown but that would have caused suffering to people. We went with a calibrated approach and targeted measures and statistics show our strategy is reaping fruit.”
Malta saw a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with the number of active cases rising to a peak of 699, prompting several countries to declare the island as an unsafe location and oblige arrivals to go into quarantine.
The government reacting by imposing restrictions on events and public gatherings and making it mandatory for people to wear a mask in certain places, but it didn’t go into a quasi-lockdown mode as it had last March when active cases were way fewer.
Two people who were infected with COVID-19 in recent weeks have died but hundreds have recovered and the number of active cases has declined to 592.
“I know that some people have criticised aspects of the way we managed a pandemic but it’s something you must expect when you’re in charge and I’m convinced that our management of the pandemic is amongst the most effective in the world.”
Abela also noted that Malta significantly increased its COVID-19 testing rate, despite some criticism that this would result in more cases being declared and make the country look worse off statistically.
“Other countries reduced their testing rate but I wanted to be authentic, honest and transparent,” he said. “When you observe the current numbers and the way we’re controlling the pandemic, you can see that this strategy was correct.”
“This style of efficiency, transparency and discipline must guide us in the coming weeks, be it on rule of law issues or the pandemic. I want an honest and authentic relationship with the public and I’m pleased that people are appreciating this.”
From an economic aspect, Abela expressed his satisfaction that unemployment figures have dropped for five consecutive weeks, recounting how predictions last March warned that 50,000 people could lose their jobs as a result of this pandemic.
“Those predictions shocked me and I promised myself not to allow this prediction to become reality, just as I never accepted predictions that thousands of people will die from COVID-19 as a reality,” he said. “I’m proud that we not only controlled the pandemic but preserved jobs in the process.”