No Covid-19 clusters detected in schools in past week as authorities report 33 new cases
, No Covid-19 clusters detected in schools in past week as authorities report 33 new cases

33 new cased of Covid-19 were found overnight and one patients have died, 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 513 and the total number of cases so far is 30,129

The patient who died was a 93 year old woman. The death toll now stands at 412

There were 38 recoveries, for a total of 29,204

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1804 swab tests were performed over the past 24 hours, for a total of 855,090 so far.

The authorities said that, until Thursday, 301,594 doses of the vaccine had been administered, of which 96,631 were second doses.

Professor Charmaine Gauci, during the weekly briefing insisted that everyone should get vaccinated as we are having much less cases of COVID-19 and having less cases which end up in hospital.

We have now a plateau in cases. A very important indicator is a 7-day moving average – this now stands at 38.

The variants are still being developed and some of them are variants of concern. The UK variant is one of these and we also have 4 cases of the South African varian and also 3 cases of the Brazilian variant. These were all isolated as soon as they were identified.

Persons in Mater Dei ITU are 8, and another 32 in other wards. There are none in Gozo. Other patients are spread in other institutions.

Vaccination is leaving a very good result and this clearly shows especially in elderly homes. There were only 2 cases in the last week. That is why the Health Authorities could open Elderly homes again.

Charmaine Gauci emphasised that whoever is affected should stay in isolation as we are still getting people infected from households and also in workplaces. The majority of cases are still from households.

The majority in cases are of 30 and 34 years of age. The average age for this week was 42 years.

The Health Authorities are pushing everyone to continue getting vaccinated since this is the only present solution to get rid of COVID. The washing of hands and social distance are still being promoted as the best prevention.

The positivity rate is also going down and currently is at 2.1%.

Whoever feels any symptoms is urged to call 111 or register for a PCR test. This is still crucial and should not be ignored. 

The COVID Alert Malta app, was now downloaded by more than 99,416 persons. 704 were given the COVID code and they inputted this code as they were infected. This app will also eventually help travelling safely since it is part of a larger European app and persons from different countries can be notified.

In the meantime, persons who are over 60 years and did not receive any invite are urged to call 145 to be given an appointment.

The uptake of vaccination in the 50 year old bracket is being considered a success and today the 40 year olds and over can start registering for the vaccine. This can be done on vaccin.gov.mt.

Taking questions from the press, Gauci said that she is aware that tests given to travellers upon arrival in Malta will only provide health authorities with a “snapshot at that particular point in time” and that travellers run the risk of developing symptoms later. It is safest to travel if one has been vaccinated first, she said. She reassured that no one will be allowed to enter Malta without being tested in some capacity.

No more than three Brazil variants are currently present in Malta, and two of these cases were brought in by incoming passengers. No Indian variants have been detected.

Those over the ages of 60 who are registered on the vaccination database have all been contacted, she said. Anyone who has not received their invite yet is urged to call 145 to receive their vaccination date.

She said that no clusters in primary schools, middle schools or secondary schools were detected this week. One cluster was detected in a childcare centre, where four childcare workers tested positive. She stressed that despite this cluster, the situation in schools in currently stable.

Asked when the general public can stop using face masks, particularly with summer around the corner, Gauci said that masks are a good form of control and act as a substantial factor in the decreasing of cases and the diminishing of the spread within the community.

Asked if pregnant women will be given the vaccine in Malta, following the United Kingdom giving the green light to this measure, Gauci said that the health authorities will move in line with the guidelines put forward by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), who are still carrying out trials. She stressed, however, that is in the best interest to protect pregnant women in Malta and ensure they are safeguarded from the virus.

Addressing the alarming spike in cases in India, Gauci said India is a red zone and any incoming passengers from Malta will be tested and must be quarantined upon return. “We will do our best to control the imported cases”, she said.

Those have been vaccinated must wait “a few days” before donating blood, she said.

Those who are worried about getting the Astra Zeneca vaccine will be given an explanation of “the minimum risks” of the vaccine, whereby only one in 250,000 people will get complications linked to blood clots. They will be reassured that the benefits outweigh the risks, she confirmed. 

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