China’s first COVID-19 vaccine granted approval

The Medical Association of Malta (MAM) has issued a harsh criticism of Malta’s Ministry for Tourism, accusing it of “amateurism and lack of foresight” in light of the recent increase in COVID cases.

“The same mistakes done last year are being repeated, by opening Malta to tourist brackets characterised by unruly behaviour with high transmission and low vaccination rates”, claimed Martin Balzan, Head of MAM.

Specifically, he took issue with Malta’s approach to British tourism, describing the resumption of tourism as Malta was added to the UK green list as a “poisoned chalice”.

“The UK not only exported the highly transmissible variant but is actively promoting mass events with an average of more than 20,000 cases a day. Most EU countries have taken note – but we have not”, Dr Balzan said.

The authorities’ approach to tourism risks “bringing the whole tourism industry down with a bang”, he warned, adding that the MAM had advised the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and tourism authorities to promote safe tourism, only opening to fully vaccinated tourists with negative swab tests.

“With 50 cases a day and a daily doubling rate of cases, Malta will soon be on EU red lists”, he said.

Making the comments in a statement on Friday morning, Dr Balzan stated the ostensibly lax approach to regulating tourism would create a “most unfair” situation for healthcare workers who “once again must make personal sacrifices to treat these patients”.

The statement comes as debate has been inflamed surrounding Malta’s tourism policy.

On Thursday, the country recorded 55 new cases and six recoveries, placing active cases at 159.

However, it has been revealed that of the 55 new cases reported to have been found in Malta on Thursday were predominantly foreign language students, with only five having received either dose of a vaccine.

This disproportionate figure will reassure many, who will be hoping that Malta’s strong vaccination programme, and the seeming continued effectiveness of the vaccine in combatting the virus, will protect Malta from the worst of a prospective third wave.

In the UK, which is leading many of its mainland European neighbours in terms of its vaccination programme, restrictions are swiftly being lifted, seeing an exploding number of cases.

However, notably, the vast majority of these cases are affecting less vulnerable young people and hospitalisations and deaths remain low.

This hospitalisation benchmark, according to some, provides a much more accurate representation of the severity of the COVID situation.

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Chris Fearne, “we aren’t worried by positive tests who are asymptomatic or lightly symptomatic”.

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