Malta’s Covid-19 reproduction ratio has decreased to 0.54, with mathematical modelling now indicating that the current wave is reaching its end, statistician Vincent Marmara said in his weekly vlog with The Malta Independent on Sunday.
The reproduction ratio of the virus is one of the key figures which countries across the world have been trying to reduce ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began. The aim for countries has been to reduce the ratio to a level of 1 – which would mean that one person would transmit the virus to one other person.
At 0.54, Marmara explained, the ratio is such that it means that two people are transmitting the virus to one person.
This comes after Malta registered just 26 new cases of Covid-19 across the last week – a significant drop from 72 cases in the previous week, and 148 cases in the week before. Last week’s figure is in fact comparable to the number of cases that Malta saw in the early stages of the pandemic, Marmara noted.
He said that the figures show that Malta reached the peak of the first wave of Covid-19 in the fifth week of the pandemic – which was two weeks ago, when the number of new cases across the week stood at 148.
“One can note that we have a wave which is slowly reaching its end”, he said.
“Whether we have a second wave or not is all dependent on the set of measures and decisions which will be taken, and on the people as well”, he said.
Similarly, he noted that while Malta’s reproduction ratio is low now, it can still increase once again, and there can still be a second wave of the virus in the country – something which is being seen in a number of countries.
“This analysis is all dependent on the current set of measures which the country has implemented. If the measures change, one still needs to maintain social distancing, especially if there are still some cases within the community”, he explained.
Marmara drew comparisons with other countries which have been hit by the pandemic.
He noted that in Italy’s case – Italy being one of the first European epi-centres of the virus – there was a very sharp increase in the number of cases reported daily and there was a prolonged peak where the number of daily cases remained very high. There was then the start of a decline – however this decline is slow.
The situation is similar in the United Kingdom, with sharp increases and with a prolonged number of days reporting a high number of cases. The only difference here is that the UK has yet to start experiencing a decrease in its own wave as of yet, he observed.
Spain too is similar, in that there is a sharp increase and a peak for many days which was then followed by a slow decrease like in Italy. In recent days however, Marmara said, there has been another increase in cases there.
Perhaps most comparable to Malta’s wave is that in South Korea, Marmara noted. South Korea experienced an increase in cases and high numbers for a short period of days, before there was a sharp decline – as has been seen in Malta.
Whatever happens next for Malta, Marmara said, is now dependent on the decisions taken by authorities on the measures currently in place and on how much people observe the principles of social distancing.
“As long as there is a certain number of cases in the community, certain social distancing measures are still necessary for us to be sure that we do not experience another wave”, he said.
He noted that measures have to be reduced little by little so that the situation can be kept under control and observation, and so if there is an increase in the reproduction ratio, authorities can make the necessary changes to those measures straight away.