143 new cases of Covid-19 were registered on Friday, as the total number of active cases dropped to 2,740, statistics published by the health authorities show.
The number of active cases dropped as 201 people recovered from the virus. A total of 16,531 vaccine doses were administered by Thursday, 616 of which were second doses.
A further three people have died while Covid positive. All three were women, aged 92, 93 and 100, who passed away at Mater Dei Hospital, Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital and the Good Samaritan Long Term Care Facility respectively. The total number of deaths now stands at 248. The 100-year-old becomes the oldest virus victim in Malta.
The number of cases registered on the islands since 7 March is now 16,423, 13,435 of whom recovered.
The number of new swab tests carried out was 3,111, for a total of 583,863.
Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci delivered her weekly briefing. She said that the health authorities are currently vaccinating those people who fall under ‘Cohort 1’, who have been prioritised to take the vaccine. She said that many healthcare workers and others who work in clinical settings were offered the vaccine and took it. She also said that vaccination efforts in elderly residential care homes are going well, where both staff and the residents in these homes are being vaccinated. The aim, she said, is to have all such residents vaccinated with the first dose by mid-February. She said that the second dose will begin to be administered to the elderly also.
Gauci said that elderly over the age of 85 who reside in their own homes are being vaccinated, adding that all those who received the letter to go for the vaccination have already been vaccinated and those who hadn’t received the letter are calling and being given appointments.
She said that people who receive Commcare, who are receiving treatment in their own homes, were not sent a letter as they will be vaccinated at home and this will start from next week. But if there are such patients who can be taken to health centres to receive the vaccine by family members, they are asked to call 145 to book an appointment.
She said that the health authorities also started vaccinating healthcare workers who do not work in clinical settings that are directly in contact with patients.
She said that country receives vaccine doses from abroad every Monday. Half of those doses are kept as second doses for people. who took the first.
Providing a breakdown of the number of Covid-19 cases in hospital beds, she said: 18 are at Mater Dei Hospital’s ITU, 9 are at the Infectious Diseases Unit, 43 are in other Mater Dei wards, 11 are at Boffa Hospital, 10 are at St Thomas Hospital, 12 are at Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital, 57 are at the Good Samaritan Hospital, four are at Mount Carmel Hospital, 14 (1 in ICU) are at the Gozo General Hospital.
She said that the 7 day moving average was of 172 cases, and that the peak seen at the beginning of January has reduced slightly. In terms of elderly care homes there was an improvement. She said that five homes are seeing more cases, and in other homes where they see a single case, the positive cases are moved to the Good Samaritan Hospital to control the situation.
In terms of cases coming from clusters, 362 cases were from family contact clusters, 110 from workplace clusters, 53 from household clusters, 52 from social gathering clusters, 31 from care home clusters, 25 from gym and sports clusters, and 18 cases were from imported clusters.
Right now, in total there are 119 active cases from Gozo, she said.
The majority of active cases in the country are aged 25-34. the 35-44 age group is the second highest. She said that the highest number of new cases compared to last week is in the 55-64 age group.
The average age of patients this past week was 39.6 years.
She said that most deaths are in the 75 to 84 age group.
Between 14 and 20 January, 1,029 tests were conducted at the airport and two people, one from Poland and the other from Bulgaria, were found to be Covid-19 positive.
She said that the people who have symptoms and take the test should stay inside until receiving the result, as they risk spreading the virus.
There are 7,258 people currently in quarantine, she said, highlighting that it is a substantial number.
Turning to the Covid-19 contact tracing app, she said that 91,865 people downloaded it, which is 19% of people aged over 13. She urged more people to download it.
The Health Superintendent also appealed to those who have taken the vaccine to still follow the measures, even if they have already taken the second dose.
“Even those who have been inoculated with the vaccine, it is important to still follow the measures as we still need more evidence about the vaccines’ impact.”
Asked why details about new cases are not being published, Gauci said that it is because cases are generally from the same clusters. “In the infographic, we are giving the most important information which we believe people should know.”
Regarding schools, Gauci said that the cases that were found did not form huge clusters, so there was no reason to close them.
Asked about whether she agrees with MAM, who stated that a weekend curfew should be introduced, Gauci said that the measures being taken are according to the current situation. “Wherever there was a need to impose more measures, we did.”
Regarding an ECDC report on the UK variant, which stated that more genetic sequencing should take place, Gauci said: “in our country, we are performing genetic sequencing on 20 people every week and only found 3 of these cases which were of the UK variant. We might increase it soon if we see the need to do so.”
Asked about particular cases where people have been waiting for a long time to be contacted by the contact tracing team, Gauci said that the delay is being caused by a high influx of cases.
“We had a high number of cases, we have to assess and perform contact tracing, which takes some time. There could be the case that there are delays due to the high numbers. That is why we are appealing for everyone to follow the measures,” she remarked.