The number of deaths related to Covid-19 has surpassed 201 after five more deaths were reported on Wednesday.
Three of these deaths were confirmed at Mater Dei Hospital; 66-year-old female who tested positive on 21 December, an 88-year old female tested positive on 11 December and a 69-year-old male who tested positive on 13 December. The other two deaths were confirmed in residential homes; a 66-year-old male at Saint Vincent de Paule who tested positive on 4 December and a 55-year-old at the Good Samaritan who tested positive on 17 December.
Until now, a total number of 68 females and 138 males have been confirmed dead as a result of the virus throughout this pandemic in Malta.
82 new cases were also reported on Wednesday.
With 132 new recoveries, the number of active cases has now decreased to 1,498 – effectively cancelling out an increase in active cases reported on Tuesday.
Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci is currently giving details in her weekly briefing, which is taking place today instead of on Friday, given that Friday is Christmas Day.
2,609 swab tests were done in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of swab tests up to 493,915.
Malta has had 11,992 cases of Covid-19 so far. 10,293 of those have recovered, while 201 have died.
In her briefing, the Superintendent said that there has been a decrease in the number of cases that are hospitalised with the total number now standing at 155; 10 at the ITU, 7 at the IDU, 31 at other Covid-19 wards in Mater Dei Hospital, 10 at Boffa, 9 at St Thomas, 1 at Karin Grech, 1 at Mount Carmel and 80 at the Good Samaritan Long Term Care Facility.
The remaining 2 cases are at the Gozo General Hospital but Gauci noted that there are no cases in the ITU section there.
The number of active cases in Gozo stands at 65.
The 7-day moving average is still below 100 as it was in the past couple of weeks; however, there are still some cases being found in elderly homes. Gauci here assured that immediate action is being taken to lower the risk as quickly as possible.
Households are still the top ranking clusters (70 this week), followed by workplace clusters (38), direct contact cases (24) and lastly social gatherings (16).
The average age of the new cases has gone down to 39 as the peak age group of active cases remains 25 to 34-year-olds.
1,855 rapid tests were conducted at the airport in the past week with 8 cases turning out positive; some of which coming from the UK which is getting more attention ever since news broke out about the new virus variant.
The UK has been moved to the red-zone meaning that no one can come from or go there except for residents coming to Malta who need to show a swab test before travelling. Gauci said that thankfully, the variant has not been detected in Malta as of yet.
Asked for her opinion on doctors’ unions calling for a total ban in flights, Gauci reiterated that only Maltese citizens who are stuck in the UK are being allowed to travel to Malta and the amount of people coming in is so little that it is not worrying as it can be monitored more closely, similar to the situation at the start of the pandemic.
The Superintendent once again called for people to practice caution, especially during the Christmas season, despite the decline in new cases as the virus is still spreading within the community.
“This is a beautiful time of year where we usually meet up with people that we haven’t seen a long time, but we need to understand that this time it is different. We do not want you to risk exposing your family and friends to the virus which could then lead to an even bigger spread, so please practice the measures we have been calling for.”
She was asked if she predicts an increase in new cases after the New Year to which she replied that this all depends on the public. “We have to think differently this year. If people are meeting with people outside of their bubble, they are exposing themselves to viruses. Let us practice caution this Christmas and take care of each other.”
With regards to the vaccine, she said that people should speak to their doctor before they have the vaccine if they had severe allergic reaction to other vaccines, fainted following needle injection, had infection with high fever, experienced bleeding or bruising problems or have a weakened immune system.
She added that people who are 16 years old or younger are not to get the jab until clinical trials are finalised and that if someone had direct contact with a case and is under quarantine, they should not take the vaccine either until they are cleared.
When asked, Gauci said that only 55 people will be getting the vaccine on Sunday in order to ensure that the system they will be using to administer it is working well and then keep on increasing the number of vaccines being administered by time.
Asked about the situation in migration reception centres, Gauci said that there are no active cases there, but migrants and staff are being regularly tested, nonetheless.
She was also asked for an explanation on the decrease in the number of daily new cases with a simultaneous increase in the number of deaths. Gauci explained that the more the virus spreads in the community, the more likely it is for the number of deaths to increase. Additionally, she noted that the deaths which are being registered now are a result of the cases that tested positive weeks ago (when daily new cases were higher).
Gauci wished everyone a Merry Christmas, with special wishes and praise going to frontliners who are working hard to curb the spread of the virus.