164 new cases of Covid-19 were found in the last 24 hours while two new deaths were reported, health authorities said on Thursday.
Authorities said that during the last 24 hours, an 84-year-old man died at Karin Grech Hospital and an 82-year-old woman died at Mater Dei Hospital.
165 people meanwhile have recovered, meaning that the number of active cases has decreased marginally to 2,398.
Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci addressed her weekly briefing on the pandemic situation, which can be viewed below.
2,873 swab tests were administered on Wednesday, taking the total number of swab tests up to 648,516 so far.
46,344 doses of the vaccine have been administered so far, with 13,820 people receiving both doses of the jab so far.
Malta has had 19,497 cases so far. 16,811 of those have recovered, while 288 have died.
157 people are currently receiving treatment in hospital, a decrease from past weeks.
17 people are in Intensive Therapy Unit at Mater Dei Hospital. A further 10 people are in the hospital’s Infectious Diseases Unit while another 48 are in different wards across the hospital.
39 people are at the Good Samaritan Long Term Care Facility – this number in particular has decreased substantially as of late.
13 are receiving treatment at Mount Carmel Hospital, 11 at St. Thomas Hospital, 8 at Boffa Hospital, 7 at Karin Grech Hospital, and 4 at Gozo General Hospital.
The seven-day moving average of cases currently stands at 151, which has increased but remains lower than the peak in the first week of this year. The average age of the new cases is 39.2 years old.
There are 71 active cases in Gozo.
Gauci said that only three elderly homes registered cases in the past week, with the maximum cluster size being of three cases.
Detailing the source of the past week’s cases, Gauci said that 358 cases derived from households. 122 were from social gatherings, 79 from workplaces, 42 from institutions including elderly homes, 20 from educational institutes, and 7 from sports or gyms.
834 rapid tests meanwhile were conducted at the Malta International Airport in the past week, with 5 of those tests coming back positive. The positive results came from Germany, Poland, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Italy.
Giving details about the vaccination process, Gauci said that the vulnerable who have not received the letter yet don’t need to call yet as we are sending the letters out in batches.
The vulnerable groups who are being prioritised for vaccination are insulin dependent diabetics; immunosuppressed patients; patients undergoing any immunosuppressive treatment including through biological agents and immunomodulators; cancer patients going through chemotherapy; patients who have undergone chemotherapy within the last six months; patients on dialysis; patients who are to be or have been admitted to hospital in the past year with respiratory problem exacerbations; patient suffering from cardiac disease who will undergo a cardiac intervention or cardiac surgery procedure or have undergone such a procedure within the last six months; patients attending a heart failure clinic; and patients on regular oral steroids.
She said that if even those who have been vaccinated develop symptoms of the virus, they should go and get tested.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been deemed safe for those aged 65 or older. However, Malta decided to use this jab on people aged between 18 and 55 only. Asked by the media on why Malta has taken such a decision, Gauci explained that when looking at studies which delve into the efficacy of this particular vaccine, the majority show that it is best to give it to people who are aged between 18 and 55.
“We have based this decision on several studies and thorough research. The other vaccinations – Pfizer and Moderna, are being given to those people who are aged 65 or older,” she said.
Gauci appealed that those people who had the Coronavirus but are still experiencing long haul symptoms, are to speak to their doctor or a specialist.
Asked on the total number of people who are currently in quarantine, Gauci confirmed that 6,238 people are in quarantine. This number includes people are positive with Covid-19, people who came in contact with someone who is positive and people who came to Malta from a red zone and are required to quarantine.
“Environment health officers are doing daily inspections to ensure that people are remaining in quarantine,” she said.
With regards to the situation within schools, Gauci highlighted that the clusters in schools have always, and still are very small – never more than 10. Thus, no school had to close down due to a drastic increase in cases.
Despite this low figure within schools, Gauci remarked that the problem and rise in cases related to children, seems to be coming from the extra-curricular activities held after school hours.
She said that “extra-curricular activities are beneficial for students, but it is very important to abide by all measures and protocols even during these activities, not only in schools.”
Speaking about the cases related to the UK variant, Gauci revealed that there has been a total of 38 cases coming from this variant. This number has more than doubled just over a week.
She said that testing for genetic sequencing has increased in order to identify whether there is a link with this variant and where it is coming from.