MTA reacts and denies large party plans / Random swabbing on flights is not enough, doctors insist

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Updated 1150 – MTA reacts, denies plans for large parties

The Malta Tourism Authority has denied that it is presently planning any large commercial parties. In a statement this morning, the Authority said that despite working tirelessly to have the tourism sector operating in a gradual matter, health and safety should be a priority.

“The safety of both tourists and those working in the tourism industry are to be held at the utmost priority. The recovery plan for the tourism sector is being presented in a responsible manner and is putting a special emphasis on sustainable tourism”, it added.

Earlier:

The Medical Association of Malta this morning shared its views on the re-opening of economic activity now that current restrictions are due to end in five days. In a statement this morning, doctors said that the re-opening of economic activity should be very gradual and that large parties should be the last to be allowed when restrictions are eased.

In particular, doctors took aim at international travel, insisting that the current practice of free for all boarding on commercial flights, with random swabbing on arrival is clearly insufficient and presents significant risks as positive individuals not only can board the aircraft without a test, but may spread the virus to other passengers at airports and especially on board the aircraft. The current practice of “board now – check later” presents very significant risk to public health and tourism alike once the number of flights increases.

Prior swab tests or authenticatable vaccine certificates should be introduced before boarding onto an aircraft, so as to guard against new variants of concern. Unfortunately, should a new variant be imported because of inadequate preventative measures the whole vaccination process may have to restart from scratch? This would have major implications for the economy as well, MAM said.

Any re-opening of economic activity should be very gradual and accompanied with close monitoring and adjusted as necessary, based on sound scientific evidence. Such a gradual process would allow remedial action to be taken promptly and effectively should numbers rise again.

The Association lambasted the Malta Tourism Authority for planning large commercial parties. “These events should be the very last to open and as much as possible after the protective effects of vaccines on such events has been scientifically demonstrated. As the British variant is much more contagious than the previous virus, just one event could lead to hundreds of new cases in a few days. This is to be avoided at all costs”, doctors said.

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