Testing within the Ħal Far Open Centre has increased significantly after no new COVID-19 cases were identified over the past week, the Ministry for Home Affairs has told Lovin Malta.
Photos sent to the newsroom shows residents lining up to get their test for COVID-19.
The drive to increase testing reflects government policy elsewhere. With the number of active patients and new cases dropping all over Malta, authorities have already begun opportunistic testing of vulnerable groups and potentially asymptomatic people.
Before last weekend, authorities were testing around 20 people every day with Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci confirming that authorities were testing the centre section by section. A total of 389 tests have so far been conducted, most of which were random, with 43 residents testing positive.
Daily random swab tests started following the discovery of the first COVID-19 positive patient. The Ministry did not provide an exact figure for the number of tests currently being conducted, explaining that it is decided upon on the day by health authorities following discussions with the Malta Red Cross, who have two centres at the facility.
COVID-19 has somewhat been contained at the Ħal Far Open Centre, which until recently Malta’s hotspot of the pandemic, with no new cases confirmed over the past week.
Despite the lack of new cases, the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) is still working to ensure that the number of positive cases remains as low as possible.
The Ħal Far open centre, home to over 1,000 asylum seekers, has been under quarantine since 5th April, initially for a two week period which was later extended.
If the number of cases remains low, quarantine could be lifted in a week’s time as scheduled.
Residents had previously raised concerns that preventative measures aren’t being enforced, with a series of photos and videos published by Lovin Malta showing how large groups of people still occupy the centre’s very limited public spaces.
AWAS has backed their measures while tensions among residents seem to be dropping with the virus currently under a degree of control.