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Minister for the Elderly and Active Ageing Michael Farrugia , Source: gov.mt

Longer, more frequent visits allowed at Malta care homes

Longer, more frequent visits allowed at Malta care homes

The island nation has the highest Covid-19 vaccination rate in Europe

Covid-19 restrictions at nursing homes across Malta will be further relaxed, with third phase measures coming into effect next Monday, 17 May, reports The Malta Independent. This was announced on Tuesday by the Minister for the Elderly and Active Ageing Michael Farrugia.

Under the new alleviated measures, two people from the same household can visit elderly relatives for 25 minutes, three times a week. This applies to all elderly care homes and St. Vincent de Paul and means that six persons per week will be allowed to visit.

Hardest-hit

Elderly care home residents in Malta and worldwide have suffered the most during the pandemic, as rampant Covid-19 outbreaks during the first wave left them exposed to the deadly virus, deprived of visits for months on end and prone to gnawing fear and depression. The new measures are seen as a positive development, as seniors will be allowed to have more visitors for a longer period of time.

Minister Farrugia found the results of the first and second relaxation of measures “very encouraging”, which in his opinion makes it safe to move onto the third phase. He underscored the fact that the restrictions are being relaxed cautiously “just in case something unexpected happens’’.

Regarding elderly residents with dementia, the minister said that they will be allowed 15-minute visits every day from two persons from the same household. This means that 14 people per week can visit their suffering relatives. Although not specifically mentioned, all previous protective measures such as wearing of masks and social distancing, still apply during care home visits, the Minister cautioned.

Day centres to reopen on 24 May

Michael Farrugia also announced that if the coronavirus situation remains stable, day centres will reopen on 24 May. These will be able to accommodate four elderly residents and two members of staff together. Furthermore, outings will be provided for these residents through a bubble system comprising members of the same household.

“We are planning to hold cultural visits and we will get guides, so it would serve as a cultural outing for them,” Farrugia said, as quoted by The Malta Independent.

Vaccination leader

According to data provided by statista.com, Malta has emerged as leader in the pan-European vaccination race with 81.4 doses administered per 100 people (9 May), ahead of the UK and Hungary. A total of 365,902 vaccine doses have been given, with 251,787 people having received at least one dose (this translates to 48.9 percent of Malta’s entire population of 514,564), and 115,333 people now fully vaccinated.

Thanks to the fast-paced vaccine rollout and the cautious easing of restrictions, the number of new Covid-19 cases dropped to just five on Wednesday (from 2,170 conducted swab tests), and active cases dipped to 192.

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