Doctors at Mater Dei have been warned of a potential collapse in acute care as health authorities are bracing themselves for what could be the worst two weeks since the start of the pandemic.
Describing the current situation at the various Mater Dei ITUs as “serious and dire”, top medical officers told The Shift that all doctors have been alerted, even those without the necessary experience or training, to support the effort as the next two weeks may prove vital for many who are expected to be admitted to the ITU with COVID symptoms.
Malta’s major hospital has seen numbers of acute cases spiral. The Shift is informed there are 38 COVID patients in the ITU.
In the last week, as the country experienced a record number of new cases, a total of 25 new admissions were made in the already stretched Mater Dei ITU facilities.
Speaking to The Shift, doctors said the situation is far from under control, despite the prime minister’s statements. “We have now stopped doing all surgery except lifesaving procedures as there are no post-operation ITU beds left for patients. And this is before the peak hits in two weeks’ time,” a senior doctor said.
“We are now effectively having to deny patients care even for serious and life-threatening conditions,” he added.
The Shift reached out to a number of doctors for comments. They repeated the same message: “We should have never reached this point.”
According to the most recent statistics by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Malta registered the third-highest COVID cases in the EU when compared to the past 14 days.
The data shows that with Malta registering 720.42 cases per 100,000 population, it was only surpassed by the Czech Republic (1,572 cases) and Estonia (1,397 cases).
After months of insistence by health professionals, including doctors’ association MAM and nurses’ union MUMN, to increase restrictions and enforcement, the government only declared a partial lockdown once the country experienced a record number of infections.
The president of the doctors association, Martin Balzan, said decisions taken by the government were not based on the recommendations made by medical professionals, even in measures recently announced.
Prime Minister Robert Abela’s comments in the lead up to the current situation focused on telling the public “Malta has won the COVID war”, that “we are living in a place that’s heaven on earth” and that “by May the country will return into business as usual”.
Today, Malta registered another 313 new cases, while another three people died from COVID bring the total number of deaths to 357.