Eight evacuees hospitalised

March 15, 2011 in General

(Monday, February 28, 2011)

Author: Fiona Galea Debono

As Malta turns into an evacuation hub for expatriates in Libya, VallettaWaterfront has set up an immediate medical care facility for urgent assistance, catering for 23 evacuees so far and referring to hospital eight of the thousands that have arrived.

Only two patients,however,remainedatMater Dei Hospital, said health services director general John Cachia, adding the emergency nurses at the port had to be prepared for every eventuality as they were not just dealing with seasickness.

SinceFriday,the Civil Protection Department, with the support of Malta Red Cross and Emergency Fire and Rescue Unit volunteers, distributed about 4,000 food packs at the harbour and the airport, feeding disembarking passengers and crew, said CPD operations manager John Gera.

All staff was on standby, with about 200 working at a go at Malta International Airport and Valletta Waterfront, said CPD head Patrick Murgo, adding the maritime and divers section was also on hand in the harbour for safety reasons.

Speaking on a visit to Valletta Waterfront yesterday morning, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi thanked and praised the CPD and the team of nurses, headed by accident and emergency consultant Jonathan Joslin, and including the voluntary assistance of his own brother, MP Michael Gonzi, and Parliamentary Secretary Mario Galea, who offered their medical services.

The challenge, Dr Gonzi told them, was to make these evacuees, who had experienced tragic situations – from the fear and tension of fleeing Libya to days waiting and braving rough seas -feel they had arrived “home” when they landed in Malta. “Let us facilitate as much as possible their return to their countries because that is what they want,” he said.

Dr Gonzi said pre-empting the way the situation would unfold in the neighbouring country, which has seen anti-Gaddafi protesters clash with the Libyan leader’s regime, meant Malta did not “find the crisis in its face and avoided lots of panic”.

He also met Customs Department officials and police officers at the port, insisting the less time the evacuees waited in queues, the better.