Dr Feelgood

This having been said, I think we all deserve a bit of positivity and therefore my article this week is all about solutions. How can we get back to normal life despite the COVID-19 pandemic?


By Kevin-James Fenech

Kevin is the founder and owner of JOB Search - jobsearch.mt 

The history of political tyranny has taught us that liberty is nearly always ‘lost’ if and when there exists a fear from an external threat.

Right now, COVID-19 is the external threat and virtually all public health restrictions are edging most EU Governments closer to a public health totalitarian state which restricts civil liberties and basic human rights.

This having been said, I think we all deserve a bit of positivity and therefore my article this week is all about solutions. How can we get back to normal life despite the COVID-19 pandemic?

I think Dr Feelgood beats Dr Fear and below are my proposed solutions:

Quarantine period

Experts in the UK believe that it is possible to reduce the 14 day quarantine period. The UK Government currently is even considering reducing it to 7 days.

The thinking behind this move is that people are much more likely to self-isolate if the period is shorter. I think the Maltese Government should seriously consider revising downwards the quarantine period.

Quick self-testing

Approve and launch an Antigen Rapid Test (salvia not swab) such as the SD Biosensor Lateral Flow Test.

People should be able to test themselves at home and it doesn’t have to be the uncomfortable swab test!

Let’s be brutally honest: the saliva test is far more welcome than the intrusive swab test and quick self-testing will mean people are much more likely to cooperate with authorities. In so doing, you make the process straightforward and the voluntary take-up will be high. Imposition never works in the long-term.


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and I quote verbatim:

“Large scale physical distancing measures and movement restrictions often referred to as ‘lockdowns’…have a profound negative impact on individuals, communities, and societies by bringing social and economic life to a near stop.”

Consequently, the Government must declare that it will not under any circumstances call a lockdown. At the moment, nearly on a daily basis, people spread rumours about a lockdown being round the corner and fear spreads like wildfire.

To add insult to injury, European governments are slowly, slowly, going into lockdown. This is undermining business confidence and terrorising people.

If, however, the government makes a strong statement, like the one WHO recently made, this will help restore business confidence and irrational fear will subside. We can then start to take rational decisions which take on board a balanced approach.

Ultimately, we must learn to live with the virus not hide in fear of it and I think this type of a government declaration will go a long way to enable Dr Feelgood to beat Dr Fear.

COVID-19 Task Force

The government needs to establish a mission specific task force to plan Malta’s COVID-19 Exist Strategy. Currently, I get the feeling that our thinking is stuck in the trenches.

The raison d’être must be to take a balanced approach which strategically takes into consideration both public health considerations but also economic ones.

Furthermore, public health experts should give advice but not take decisions and the membership of this task force must include key stakeholders, economists and other non-public health figures.

Similarly, elected decision makers should take decisions and make judgement calls not public health officials.

The elected executive does so based on the best expert advice but they should take all decisions and sometimes such decisions must go against the advice since public health is not the be all and end all.

Peoples’ economic and mental wellbeing is as important as their physical wellbeing.

Impact assessment

We need to know what is the real cost (social + economic + health) of the decisions being taken in the name of public health; looking at both the short term but also the medium-to-long term.

I say this because it might just be that the people of Malta are not willing to pay such a high price all in the name of COVID-19.

I mean with a mortality rate of 0.6% the majority of the people might just prefer to protect the elderly and the vulnerable but reopen the economy.

I also still believe that healthy working individuals, which constitute the majority of the population, can and should go to work and their children attend school.

I think it is important that we defend and protect as much as possible our daily routines and not succumb to a siege mentality and imprison ourselves at home. Mental health and our sanity is as important as physical health.

Import more nurses and doctors

If we have enough ventilators but not enough people to man such machines the only solution is to import nurses and doctors.

My understanding is that the PM gave the Minister of Health a blank cheque during the COVID19 crises so I don’t see money as being a hurdle.

I also can’t understand why the recruitment of foreign nurses and doctors didn’t occur over summer in preparation for the autumn/winter spike.

In conclusion, I genuinely hope Dr Feelgood beats Dr Fear since our livelihood and overall well being depends on it.

Let’s have the courage to think of a Malta specific solution and stop copying what other European countries are doing. Let’s be bold and creative in our solutions.

Finally, let’s adopt a balanced approach which protects Malta’s sustainable recovery in 2021.

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