16 new Covid-19 cases found as active cases continue to decline
, 16 new Covid-19 cases found as active cases continue to decline

16 new cases of Covid-19 were found overnight, the health authorities said on Friday.

More details were given by Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci during her weekly briefing.

The number of active cases is now 331 and the total number of cases so far is 30,292

There were no deaths in the last 24 hours related to COVID-19. The death toll now stands at 413

There were 55 recoveries, for a total of 29,548.

1,761 swab tests were performed over the past 24 hours, for a total of 867,282 so far.

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The authorities said that, until Thursday, 331,438 doses of the vaccine had been administered, of which 105,628 were second doses.

Charmaine Gauci confirmed that the vaccination rate is still a very good one. In fact those 94% of the 60+ have been vaccinated; 67% of the 50+ age cohort have been vaccinated and 42% of the 40+ age cohort have been vaccinated as well. 

She noted that the uptake of the vaccine has been positive and urged people over 60 years of age to contact the Health Authority to be vaccinated if they are still not vaccinated.

The present situation is under control thanks to the vaccination and also to the preventive measures in place, she said.

The 7 day moving average is that of 23. We are still having 67% of UK variant and the rest is the common COVID. Till now we also had 5 cases Brazilian variant and another 5 cases of the South African variant.

At present, there are 8 patients in ITU at Mater Dei and another person in the Gozo General Hospital.

The present positive cases are still resulting from households or imported cases. There were no cases at childcare centres this week but in Primary and Secondary schools there were 4 students which were not part of a cluster and 3 cases in school staff.

Gauci said that a cluster of 11 cases were identified in foreign University students who were living together.  The source of the cluster was one of the cases with the Brazilian variant.  The cases are being hospitalised so to ensure that they are isolated.

Gauci urged for post-secondary learning to continue online so to make sure that no further clusters are developed.

The most affected age group in this week’s cases that of 20 to 49 years. The present average age is 41 years.

Testing is still crutial and positivity rate is continuously reducing and at present is at 1.3%.

The Health Superintendent still urged everyone to continue with hand washing or sanitizing, to continue keeping social distance and also wear the mask.

Between the 22nd and 28th April during tests done at the Airport, the authorities found one case coming from Turkey and another one from Italy. They also found two cases coming from Bulgaria.

Answering questions from The Malta Independent, Gauci said that although the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was given approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), it will start to be implemented into Malta’s rollout system as of next week.

The BioNTech Pfizer vaccine, she said, will be given to children in Malta between the ages of 12 to 15 once it is approved by the EMA, following BioNTech’s announcement that it expects children from this age group across Europe to receive the vaccine this coming June.

The standards which outline how contact sports will resume on 10th May will be made available next week, she said. The standards, which are being developed by Sport Malta, will indicate if national teams, as well as clubs which practice contact sports, will be able to resume training.

Taking questions from the other media houses, Gauci said that genome sequencing will continue to be closely observed to detect any variants appearing in Malta. It is essential that variants are identified as early as possible in order to place cases in quarantine and commence contact tracing of these case.

Asked about the wearing of masks on the beach, she said that if a person is going swimming, they must take off the mask immediately before swimming and then wear it once more as soon as they come out of the water.

The opening of bars and gyms will be announced in line with the relaxation of restriction measures, and both bar owners and gym services will be given a notice from beforehand to prepare for re-opening.

While Covid fatigue has been experienced by many, especially front-liners, Gauci said that measures must not be relaxed too quickly in order to curb a spread. This includes the opening of restaurants past 5PM, since restaurants are classified as being more of risk to the general public than other entities.

Restaurants which will open on 10th May will be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages to their customers, however Gauci advised the public to be careful with their alcoholic intake, as it could encourage people to ignore social distancing and the wearing of masks.

Telework is an important factor in minimizing the spread, she continued, noting that cases have noticeably dropped thanks to workers continuing their work from home.

Lastly, despite the fact that tourists are expected to arrive in Malta as of 1st June, the date should not be taken as a cut-off point for all restrictive measures to be dropped. Measures will continue to be relaxed throughout the summer while tourists are visiting Malta.

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