More than 60 young Spaniards are confined to a hotel in Malta after catching COVID-19 during a trip to study English. Their families report that the students are hardly being cared for and that they have no information about their situation. “The monitors had to buy them paracetamol and ibuprofen because they didn’t even give them that”, explains by phone María del Carmen, the mother of one of the students who went on a trip to the Bellavista hotel, in Malta, on July 3 in charge from Sheffield and Interway language agencies.
According to this mother, the young people coincided in the accommodation with groups from other countries that, shortly after arriving, ended up infecting half: “They did a screening and my daughter came out that it was positive, but nobody has told me that my daughter is positive, I found out because she told me, “he says.
From the embassy they communicated to the parents that they were going to repatriate all Spaniards, “but on the same day they told them no”, so this Tuesday, July 20, they intend to bring to Spain only those who are negative in COVID- 19.
The Ministry of Health recommends Spanish travelers abroad to “limit and restrict” their travels to countries with the highest risk of exposure to the virus. Malta has a cumulative COVID-19 incidence of 411 per 100,000 inhabitants, and since July 19, the archipelago is considered ‘country of risk’, according to the latest update of the page of the Spanish embassy, that provides a consular emergency telephone 24 hours for travelers who need it.
As Malta entered this category, according to one of the language companies, they had to perform PCR and antigen tests on some of the negative students who were going to travel on Tuesday the 20th on the repatriation flight. This has caused that three students and one monitor of those who were going to return to Spain have to join those already confined in the Maltese archipelago, which is estimated to remain in quarantine until July 27.
Many of the young people, such as the 15-year-old daughter of María del Carmen, have symptoms “such as fever and loss of smell”, but they have not received face-to-face or telephone health care, so their monitors have been in charge of them: “They didn’t even have a thermometer and they made PPE with garbage bags,” continues the mother.
According to the version of the relatives, the hotel is not carrying out changes of sheets or similar services due to the risk of contagion, and has decided to confine all the boys in a plant, as the mother recounts: “They have set movement alarms and a guard security so that young people do not leave their rooms. ”
Communications have been sent to parents from one of the companies over the last few days to inform them about the situation of young people. They detail that they are in contact with the embassy, but that their requirements before the Maltese authorities “are not being heeded”, not only regarding the repatriation of all adolescents, but also regarding the pressure on the hotel director to comply with the agreed conditions.
Language courses and spotlights
Study trips to Malta, mainly to study English, are becoming a source of contagion for the country. This is not the only news in recent days about students confined in Malta. Already at the beginning of July some thirty young university students had to remain in quarantine despite the fact that most had the vaccination card and tested negative in PCR tests.
Likewise, some of the student groups from other language agencies, such as Education First (EF), are also confined to different hotels in the archipelago. “Before going to Malta we were aware that we could be infected, but we did not expect such a massive contagion”, recognizes Carlos (not his real name), one of the positive young people.
In the case of this other group, there were 25 people, many of whom did not wear a mask, “even the monitors,” says the young man, who remains almost without symptoms. “Other students are quite ill, like a friend, who a few days ago could not even get out of bed and was taken to the hospital,” he says. In Carlos’s accommodation they have provided what they need, he explains,
“The first week they were continuous activities,” explains this student, “but, noticing that the situation worsened, the agency put some measures, such as online classes due to the new government restrictions,” continues Carlos, who thinks there were “problems with organization”.
Although students are negative for COVID-19, they will not be able to return home soon since the positive ones must remain confined in their hotels until they complete the 14 days of quarantine required in the country. In many cases, these students will pass the disease without telephone health control or assistance beyond that of their monitors, who ask them how they are “from the other side of the door.”