An increase in the demand for rented property for the Christmas period is raising concern that private parties are being planned, with the risk that Covid-19 cases could rise exponentially as a result of social gatherings, The Malta Independent on Sunday is informed.
In the past four months Malta has seen a steady rise in Covid-19 cases, with the number of daily cases going up to more than 100 on a regular basis, at times over 200. While it is obligatory to wear masks in public, most other restrictions have been eased by the government, with bars and clubs the only victims as they remain closed.
People have now appeared to be looking for other ways to entertain themselves during the Christmas and New Year season, and one idea that seems to have occurred to many is the renting out of private property where it is envisaged that parties will be held.
In recent days this newsroom spoke to various field experts regarding the Christmas period and the risks it brings with it.
Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci was very vocal with her concerns regarding the repercussions of such events occurring.
The spread of the virus in the community has stabilised in recent days, she said, but matters could become much worse if large social gatherings, or even extended family events take place.
Gauci went on to explain that the biggest headache for keeping the virus under control, is finding people who are asymptomatic. When it comes to festive period, if one does not feel any symptoms, they will feel comfortable to go out and meet their friends, colleagues, extended family and so on. Through this process, someone who is asymptomatic will be hitting different bubbles with the result that cases will multiply, Gauci said.
Reports that the Covid-19 vaccine will be available as from the New Year seem to have alleviated fear among many people, but the availability of the vaccine will not mean that the problems related to the virus will be surmounted overnight.
Gauci explained that this Christmas needs to be different. Being away from family, friends and loved ones is not easy, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The unnecessary meetings with people outside one’s bubble still have to be avoided. We must not forget that the vaccine has not arrived yet, Gauci said. If we are reckless during the Christmas period, the following weeks will be hard on the health services in Malta and Gozo.
Statistically, January is always the time when influenza reaches its peak in Malta. The risks which are brought about by people meeting outside their bubble will be twofold. This will bring about an upsurge in the number of cases. Although the majority of the people who are infected will not need a lot of medical attention, there will still be a rise in hospital admissions because of this, especially for vulnerable people. This will put a higher demand on the hospitals and it would be to the detriment of other patients who need to go to hospital for other physical needs.
The Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection said that inspections will continue especially during the Christmas period. Both Gauci and the Ministry for Tourism said that in people’s private homes it is impossible to reinforce the protocols; therefore they both appeal for the safety of vulnerable people that protocols are not to be broken and social distancing measure are to be adhered to constantly.