Watch: Coronavirus briefing – 19 new cases, record equalled; total reaches 188; one still critical
watch coronavirus briefing 19 new cases record equalled total reaches 188 one still critical - Watch: Coronavirus briefing - 19 new cases, record equalled; total reaches 188; one still critical

Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci today said 19 new cases of Coronavirus were recorded in the last 24 hours.

This equals the record of 19 cases which had been registered for the first time on 25 March.

This brings the total number of Coronavirus cases to 188, she said when addressing the media. Fourteen of the last cases were locally transmitted, five were related to travelling.

The number of patients who have recovered still stands at two, while another two patients are still being kept at the ITU, with one of them being critical.

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Twelve patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Unit, while another 14 are being kept at the St Thomas Hospital.

Gauci said that the health authorities were expecting the number of cases to gradually increase – 32 have been registered in the last two days. Measures that the government out in place were intended to flatten the curve so as not to inundate the health services with huge numbers of cases at the same time, she said, again insisting on the need to practise physical (or social) distancing. 

One of the local transmission cases involves the male worker, aged 23, at the Safi Lidl supermarket. In this case, the store has been closed until it is disinfected and a contact tracing exercise is taking place. Any customers who went to the store on 27 March and who experience symptoms is asked to contact the health authorities.

The other cases involving a local transmission included women aged 24, 45, 62, 56, 20, 27 and 65. The latter case is of a woman who was already at Mater Dei Hospital for an unrelated condition, and who has now been transferred to the Infectious Diseases Unit. Gauci said that this patient was found to havge contracted the disease during their routine swabbing of patients at the hospital. The case is being investigated, she said.

Six men also contracted the disease locally – they are aged 33, 22, 64, 42, 33 and 47, with the latter case linked to another person who had tested positive.

All the five patients who tested positive to Coronavirus in the last 24 hours were men – their ages are 28 (he came back from England on 13 March, stayed in quarantine and developed symptoms on 27 March), 51 (he had been in contact with a foreigner who tested positive after he had returned to his country); 62 (related to another positive case which had been reported); 19 (he had come from France) and 32 (related to another case).

The Malta Independent asked Gauci if she finds it worrying that there have been no new recoveries and some of the patients have been infected for nearly four weeks. Gauci said that what is worrying is that the virus seems to linger for a long time on most people, making them still in danger of transmitting it. This is why people should avoid being exposed to it as some recover quickly while others can keep carrying it with them, which is why the authorities are keeping every patient under surveillance.

Asked about the her opinion on whether or not the spring hunting season should open, Gauci said that discussions and a risk assessment exercise are underway to evaluate the risk for both hunters and the rest of the population.

She added that there are also discussions underway amongst health authorities to evaluate the safety of driving lessons as some driving instructors have complained that even though they are still working there are some examiners who are not showing up to work.

Asked if there are protocols in place if it were the case that a Coronavirus positive patient lives in a shared eatablishment like a block of flats, Gauci said that the health auhorities always give recommendations on how the place should be cleaned. She emphasised that the most important thing is that the cleaners do not generate aerosols as this could spread the virus even more.

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