Maltese health authorities have advised the public against panic food buying amidst fear that the coronavirus might make its way to the island soon.
“People look at what’s happening in China and start to panic,” said Professor Michael Borg at a press conference earlier today. “That’s a case of internal transmission and the complete opposite of what we have here.”
So far there have been no cases of coronavirus confirmed on the island, with health authorities strengthening their surveillance at entry points, from proper training to thermal cameras.
Borg also warned that social media has ‘blown things out of proportion’ and has been instilling a sense of fear in the nation, causing people to resort to unnecessary measures. “Fake news on social media is phenomenal, we are much better off than other places,” he said.
There were doomsday-like scenes at Maltese supermarkets earlier today as people rushed to buy survival food over fears the coronavirus could force them to lock themselves up inside.
“When we had the Gulf War, it was the same, oil was flying off the shelves. This is a new virus but we have to be vigilant and not afraid. I think Roosevelt said it but the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he added.
“If people continue to raid supermarkets we’ll end up with some who have a stockpile for two years and others who don’t have food for today. It’s important to be careful and buy just what you need,” commented Superintendence of Public Health, Charmaine Gauci.
People aren’t only stocking up on food but medical face masks as well with Lovin Malta reporting a few weeks ago that some pharmacies had run out of stock.
“We need to emphasise the importance of washing your hands, that’s the best preventative measure, not the masks,” said Borg.
Malta is currently at a ‘pre-contamination phase’ with no confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island. Thermal scanners have been installed at the airport with additional scanners to be introduced at the freeport and Sicily catamaran tomorrow.
Borg was also adamant that the health authority has done its utmost to prepare with a set of strict procedures being put in place and educational classes being taught to medical staff (and immigration staff at the airport) in case the coronavirus were to come to Malta.
“We are aren’t taking any shortcuts, we have implemented preventative measures as good, if not better, than other hospitals in the EU,” he added.