Malta’s government should react to the surge in COVID-19 cases by shifting human resources in the public sector towards contact tracing, the Malta Chamber has proposed.
It said the benefits of this strategy can be twofold – it will ease the burden from the overwhelmed contact tracing team and possibly open the door towards the reduction of the mandatory quarantine period.
Malta is currently following the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s recommendations for a 14-day quarantine period for people who have come into contact with a positive case.
However, the ECDC also states that the quarantine period can be shortened to ten days after exposure to a positive case if a PCR swab test at day 10 is negative. Indeed, the mandatory quarantine period is ten days in a number of European countries, including Italy, the UK and Ireland, while the likes of France and Belgium have reduced it to seven days.
“It is understood that with the increase in numbers, the contact-tracing procedure has been overwhelmed in the past days, with positive cases taking days to be contacted for further instruction,” the Chamber said.
“[We] recommend the secondment of human resources from sectors which have resources to spare, to this operation, in order to make sure that the contact-tracing function is operating optimally once again.”
“Rigorous implementation of containment measures will enable us to fight the virus and keep the country afloat.”
The Chamber also proposed mandatory mask-wearing in all public places, better management and enforcement of public gatherings, and better messaging to constantly remind the public of the pandemic’s existence, even if the situation starts improving.
Malta has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent cases, with a record 122 confirmed in the last 24 hours, along with 36 new recoveries. Health professionals have flagged a growing strain on the public health services and there have been prolonged delays in testing and contact tracing.
Health Minister Chris Fearne has said that new measures to contain the spread will be announced shortly and has pledged to step up enforcement of the current measures.
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