Repubblika is deeply concerned by remarks that Prime Minister Robert Abela is reported by various media to have made about Covid-19. Malta’s health authorities have secured excellent results in limiting the spread of Covid-19 in our country. 

But we are experiencing a new wave of cases. On most days, the increase of people testing positive is generally due to people who have contracted the disease locally from persons who were circulating freely. Newly arriving migrants rescued at sea do not circulate freely and therefore pose little risk of further transmission.

The number of ‘total cases’ of Covid-19 includes migrants rescued at sea that have tested positive. But these patients are immediately isolated and have contributed nothing at all to the spread of the disease locally. 

By laying the blame on them, the Prime Minister risks inciting racial prejudice.

None of the migrants were at the Santa Venera festa, or at the Radisson Hotel party, or in Paceville nightclubs or in the other mass gatherings that have been recorded by the government’s contact tracing as the sources of infection for clusters of Covid-19 patients.

This means that the local spread of Covid-19 is not a result of migrants rescued at sea. It is a result of the policies of Prime Minister Robert Abela who has re-opened Malta to travel from points of origin (like the UK, France and Spain) where Covid-19 numbers are rising again, and has permitted parties, festas, night clubs and mass gatherings at the same time.

It now seems that as a result of these policies, the government has lost control of the Covid-19 situation. To rein it back in, the government may need to prepare the public for punitive restrictions which it would not want to be blamed for. The restrictions that may need to be introduced may have a devastating impact on our economy, the education of our children and our way of life, and could have been at least in part avoided had the government not rushed to open up prematurely the country to in-bound travel and mass gatherings and parties.

To avoid facing the responsibility of its misguided and damaging policies, the government is trying to persuade the public to shift the blame on the weakest possible scapegoat: the black child, woman or man saved from drowning in our waters.

The Prime Minister has the responsibility to protect vulnerable people, including migrants, from racial prejudice, and from being scapegoated for ills they have done nothing to cause. He is doing the opposite.