Editorial | Getting practical to move forward

The underlying rationale must be one that encourages the quick return to normality in all aspects of the country’s social and economic life


The changes that came into force on Monday on quarantine conditions for those who test positive for COVID-19 and their contacts are more than welcome.

The reduction in quarantine for the vaccinated not only gives value to the choice people make to get inoculated but also relieves some of the stress caused to workplaces by the exponential surge in cases of recent weeks.

Businesses have been facing problems to deliver optimal services as a result of the large number of people required to quarantine, either because they are infected or because they were contacts of known infections.

Cutting quarantine will help mitigate the blow.

But this step must not be the last. A continuous evaluation of the pandemic’s evolution is necessary to determine whether the quarantine periods can be reduced even further, especially now that even children aged between 5 and 11 are getting inoculated.

Despite the surge in COVID cases, the situation today is a far cry from what it was a year ago. Despite the high number of new infections, hospitalisations have remained manageable and the number of patients requiring treatment in ITU is very low.

Moreover, the severity of most new infections is much reduced with many people reporting mild cold-like symptoms that pass after two or three days.

These developments require a different methodology when tackling the pandemic, which is why reducing the quarantine period makes sense.

Within this context, it remains of utmost importance that the vaccination pro-gramme continues unabated.

The health authorities have to engage in a targeted information campaign to encourage people to get the booster dose and for parents to inoculate their children.

Vaccination is part of the reason why the current situation is tenable despite the rising number of cases.

While this leader believes that mandatory vaccination could be counterproductive in a country like Malta with a high take-up rate, giving value to vaccinations remains imperative.

The rules that should come into force on 17 January that make it a requirement to show a vaccine certificate to enter certain establishments are good. They should be maintained at least until the numbers start to go down.

But the rules have to be accompanied with effective enforcement to avoid a situation where non-compliant establishments compete unfairly with those making the extra effort to comply.

Government should also consider giving establishments a one-off grant for any in-vestment required to ensure compliance.

As things stand today getting tested to determine whether one has COVID-19 is creating an undue expense on individuals. Government testing centres are unable to cope with demand and appointments are given too far into the future, creating difficulties for employees and workplaces.

The alternative is private testing centres, however rapid tests come at a cost of €35, which makes it prohibitive for whole families to get tested.

The health authorities must look into the option of self-testing kits that are being used abroad. These are cheap and can be bought even from supermarkets. In Mal-ta, they remain illegal.

Having these cheap tests could provide a quick testing system for individuals, giving them the necessary results immediately.

To ensure these tests are not abused by employees, an employer may ask for at least one positive test result of a family member obtained from a recognised testing centre.

The underlying rationale must be one that encourages the quick return to normality in all aspects of the country’s social and economic life.

Being practical in the measures adopted will foster compliance, peace of mind and award the common-sense approach adopted by many to get vaccinated.

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