12 Covid-19 patients are currently receiving treatment in Mater Dei Hospital’s Intensive Therapy Unit, Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said in her weekly briefing on Friday.
Addressing the press, Gauci said that a total of 82 people out of Malta’s 1,770 active cases of Covid-19 are in hospitals across the country.
12 of those 82 are receiving treatment in ITU. Another 5 are in the Infectious Diseases Unit, while 22 are in other wards around Mater Dei.
25 more are residing at Boffa Hospital and another 16 are at St. Thomas Hospital. One patient is at Karen Grech Hospital, and another is at Mount Carmel Hospital.
She said that the increase in the number of cases in hospital is a reflection of the increased incidence of community cases.
Addressing the past week of cases – where there have been over 100 cases of Covid-19 found everyday – Gauci said that the 7-day moving average of cases now stands at 139.6 cases. She said that this is a very high number of cases, and noted that authorities are working to be able to treat all cases.
Giving details about the source of some cases, Gauci said that 188 of the cases were found from household cases, 65 from workplace clusters, 31 from social gatherings, 11 from abroad, and 11 from Paceville.
The 11 imported cases were found from 169 tests. Five of the cases hailed from France, four from Spain and the other two from the Czech Republic.
She continued to remind the public about the three main principles that one should follow in order to reduce Covid-19 transmission: mask wearing – which will be mandatory and enforceable as of today – hand hygiene, and social distancing.
Out of the active cases, Gauci noted how only 44 are from Gozo.
Most of last week’s cases were between the ages of 25 and 34, although the average ages of cases was of 38 years old – which is lower than in recent weeks.
She said that there is currently a big demand for testing, both from symptomatic people, and from contacts – be them high-risk or low-risk – of people who test positive for the virus.
Finally, she encouraged the public to download the government’s contact tracing app – called Covid-19 Alert Malta – which will send a notification if they have been in close contact with a positive case and recommend that they make an appointment to get swabbed.
78,189 people so far – equivalent to 16.2% of the over-13 population – have downloaded the app so far, and 129 positive cases have made use of it.
The Malta Independent asked for an update on positive cases in schools and if there are plans for schools to close. Gauci explained that while, there were a number of cases of school staff that tested positive, there have been no cases of transmission among students per se. She appealed for everyone to keep following regulations and maintain this success, especially the one regarding parents not sending children to school if they are sick.
This newsroom also asked if she agrees with the Malta College of Pathologists who said that infection rates will only go down if bars, restaurants and gyms close down. Gauci said that there have not been cases relating to restaurants which shows that the mitigation measures are working. However, she acknowledged that bars could be a problem which is why they implemented the curfew for 11pm which is around the time when people start to drink and lose control.
Similarly, she was asked about pathologists saying that, despite the emphasis that is being put on them, masks are not enough to prevent spreading. The Superintendent explained that, from the very beginning, the health authorities have said that the mitigation measures being released need to work together in order for them to be effective.
Asked if she thinks that it is a bit counterintuitive for someone to wear a mask outside when walking in a crowded area where there are people eating or smoking outside without a mask, Gauci said that in such cases, social distancing is of high priority and urged passers -by to avoid getting near such situations.
It was pointed out to her that there have been a number of reports wherein people who tested positive for the virus a week ago have not been contacted by the contact tracing team. The Superintendent said that the public health team is putting in its best efforts to keep investigating but the increase in cases caused a delay. However, the team is growing with the help of allied health professionals and volunteers and there has already been an increase in assessed cases.
She explained that the main reason for a rapid increase in cases is the increase in cases itself as it starts spreading within the community, however she said that this is happening across the whole of EU.
Asked for an update on fines regarding quarantine, she said from the start of the pandemic there have been 48 fines issued for isolated cases and 202 fines for contact quarantine or those coming from red zone countries.
Asked for an update on the most common symptoms, Gauci said that they are the same as they were before with the majority experiencing respirator issues including fever, sore throat and coughing while others have gastric related issues, and others are asymptomatic.She pointed out that one symptom that seems to sick even after recovery is tiredness.
Asked for how many people are in quarantine, she said that the total is at 3,327; 139 of these are health care workers (70 from Mater Dei, 11 from Mount Carmel, 27 from Karen Grech and 31 from Primary Care).
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