As the Maltese health authorities urge everyone to remain indoors – there are still many who ignore these warnings. They go to the beach to sit on the sand, to the playgrounds, to have a picnic in the countryside – all in large groups, which is the exact opposite of the recommendations of health authorities to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
This angers many – especially those who work in the health sector and see up close and personal the havoc on the hospitals and health systems caused by the spread of the highly contagious virus. They find it disrespectful to the hard, tiring and exhausting work of medical staff, which is even keeping them away from their own homes and families.
One of the top Italian hospitals in Bergamo, Papa Giovanni XXII, revealed to the public how they were battling the virus in the area that was the worst affected in Italy – in an attempt to send out a clear message that social distancing is the only way to stay healthy… and in their case, alive.
The photos show bed after bed lined next to each other, filled with patients on a respirator or an oxygen mask. These are tended to carefully by the staff who are masked, gloved and gowned. Every single space that can be spared is taken up by a bed.
“It’s very severe pneumonia, and so it’s a massive strain for every health system because we see every day 50 to 60 patients who come to our emergency department with pneumonia, and most of them are so severe they need very high volumes of oxygen,” Roberto Cosentini, Head of emergency care, told Sky News.
The hospital is trying to keep up with the scale of the epidemic and even Consentini said the only way to slow down the virus was to stay away.
The scale of the spread and pressure on the medical system has reached a point where an Italian crisis management unit proposed denying access to intensive care to people aged 80 or more or in poor health should pressure on beds increase, The Telegraph reports.
Neighbouring Sicily has implemented a series of stringent measures in an attempt to stop people from going out. These include shutting down all public and green areas and closure of all businesses, with the exception of pharmacies, stationery shops and supermarkets. Public transport can only be filled up to 40% of capacity and passengers have to stay one metre apart.
People can leave their house once a day to make purchases and no outdoor sports activities are allowed – even if alone. Animals can be walked briefly in the surrounding area.
Italy has been criticised for implementing a countrywide lockdown too late. But before that, there were very clear calls for the public to stay inside and not socialise in any way.
This message has been repeated over and over again by the Maltese health authorities – especially the Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci.
Gauci has been the face of the medical aspect of the coronavirus in Malta and, every day at noon, gives a detailed briefing and update on the local situation. She has been pushing, together with Health Minister Chris Fearne, for people to stay inside.
They further emphasised this message in light of Thursday’s public holiday and they again asked people to stay at home. Within a matter of hours, the Maltese took to social media in anger posting photos of parking bays at beaches filled with cars and large groups of bikers gathered by the side of the road, chatting away.
This did not get past Gauci who sent out a very clear message. “If the Maltese obey and stay home as much as possible, there is hope that the peak of the virus does not hit Malta. This virus will spread as much as we allow it to – it depends on us.”