Seven new Coronavirus cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 195. Only two have recovered.
Addressing the media, health chief Charmaine Gauci had initially said that eight persons had tested positive but when she have a list of patients, she mentioned only seven.
Asked later to clarify, she said that a person had tested positive twice and had been listed twice.
So, in actual fact, the number of new cases was seven, not eight, she said.
Gauci said that 738 swabs were taken in the past day, for a total of 8,297 swabs.
There are still two patients recovered at the Intensive Therapy Unit of Mater Dei Hospital, with one still intubated but on the road to recovery. Another 10 patients are being kept at the hospital’s Infectious Diseases Unit while another 16 are at St Thomas Hospital.
Six of the new cases recorded today are locally transmitted, while the other one is linked to travelling, Gauci said.
The case related to travelling is of a 22-year-old woman who is a relative to that person who had travelled to Morocco. All the family is still in quarantine.
The other cases include that of a 36-year-old man from The Phillipines, who lives in Malta, and who first experienced symptoms to 25 March.
Two men who went to work in the past few days also tested positive, and in both cases work colleagues have now been placed in quarantine (seven and four cases respectively). The two men involved are aged 48 and 27, and a contact tracing exercise was carried out in both cases. A cleaning exercise at the respective offices is taking place.
The other cases involve three women aged 59, 34 and 26. The latter case is of a health care worker, and this has led to her colleagues being placed in quarantine while the patients she could have come in contact with are also being tested.
The Malta Independent asked Gauci about the Health Ministry’s letter to people urging them to stay indoors, a letter that had been received by people who had been dead for 20, 30 years.
She apologised for this and said that this is an issue coming from a need to clear out the government’s and health databases of patients. The information for sending such letters came from these databases and even though a cleaning exercise had been carried out, it is clear that some cases had been missed.
Asked about suggestions that face masks do not need to be worn in public, Gauci said that the authorities are in direct contact with the World Health Organisation in this regard but they are also assessing the impact that the use of face masks has had on communities in other countries.
When compared to other countries Gauci said that the curve in Malta is still going up as expected, but at a gradual rate, which is important because it means that the number of new cases is limited so as not to cause undue pressure on medical resources.
Asked for the reason behind the use of CT scans in some cases, Gauci explained that these scans are used for further investigations on people that need to go hospital due to symptoms indicative of COVID-19. Such investigations also help the health authorities make the needed contact tracing of the patient as a precautionary measure.
Asked about her opinion on opening hunting season, she said that this is not in her remit as her priority is to ensure that public health guidelines are followed.
With regards to the case announced on Wednesday about a LIDL employee testing positive, Gauci said that a number of people have been in contact with the health authorities regarding this. The authorities carried out a risk assessment for and it resulted that the chance for transmission was low; having said this, customers are encouraged to monitor their health just in case.
She also suggested that people should put aside any non-urgent products so that they ensure that the virus dies out or wipe items they buy before storing them as the virus can survive from 24 to 72 hours on its surface.
This measure should also be followed by anyone receiving a package from abroad via mail.
Seeing that new symptoms are cropping up, she appealed for people experiencing any sort of symptoms that they would associate with any other flu to immediately call for clarification and possible get a swab test as a precaution.
She also acknowledged that there are people who are scared to perform tests however, she encourage everyone to get a test if they have symptoms so that they can control the situation.
She said that we should not stigmatise anyone who tests positive as this virus is like any other flu.
“Our strategy is to increase testing as this allows for better management of the situation; this is a strategy that a lot of countries are implementing.”