Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said today that 1,008 swab tests were carried out for Covid-19 yesterday, Easter Sunday, resulting in 6 new positive cases over the past 24 hours. The total number of cases has risen to 384
The first case is a Norwegian woman who started showing symptoms on 20 March but worsened over the past few days. The woman had been working from home, so the case is contained.
The second case is a Nepalese man, 43, who works in Malta. Symptoms started on 4 April. Contact tracing is being carried out at his place of employment and residence.
A 24-year-old migrant who lives at the Hal Far tent village also tested positive. He was among the people tested on Saturday.
The fourth case is a Maltese man, 59, who started showing symptoms on 10 April. Contact tracing is being carried out with work colleagues and relatives.
Another Maltese man, 32, tested positive. The authorities are doing contact tracing at his place of employment, Gauci said, adding that only one other person works with him.
The sixth case is another Maltese man, 34. Five of his colleagues, as well as his relatives, were placed in quarantine.
Gauci said the authorities expect more cases in the coming days as community transmission is ongoing. She appealed to people to stay inside and telework where possible. People should only go out if absolutely necessary.
She clarified that people who suffer from asthma and use an inhaler are not considered to be vulnerable. Asthmatics, however, who need to take steroids do fall into the vulnerable category, however.
Replying to questions by The Malta Independent, Gauci said she was saddened by the fact that many people were still ignoring the appeals made by the health authorities and were still going out. A record 104 people were fined on Sunday for breaking the 3-person rule. Gauci again appealed to people to stay inside.
If people collaborate, there would be no need to introduce harsher measures and increase fines, she said.
Asked whether the decision to close the ports to migrant boats had been taken upon her own recommendation, Gauci simply said that any migrants who come in will be tested and given the necessary treatment.
Gauci confirmed that over the past two days, two workers tested positive for COVID-19 at ST Microelectronics. A risk assessment of the workplace was carried out in order to identify who the people came in contact with.
She said that the people who came in touch with these two workers were instructed to stay in quarantine and will be followed up. The respective work area has also been disinfected.
Gauci also confirmed that two patients who tested positive are being hospitalized at Mount Carmel. She said that, “the cases we had of workers working there were investigated through contact tracing, following which we identified other cases.”
She said that migrants who tested positive are being kept at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital but will now be moved and be cared for at the Hal Far centre in order to free up beds.
Asked whether the health authorities have an indication of when the situation will return back to normality, Gauci said that this is a question asked by many. She added that everyone has to cooperate for us to reach that stage.
Gauci explained that this also depends on the R-Factor. “If the R-factor is more than 1, than it is too early for us to go back to normality. We will only go back to normality once the cases have decreased and once we are certain that we have full control of the situation.”
With regard to the patient at St. Vincent de Paule Residence who tested positive, but also had other tests which resulted negative, Gauci said that “the swab test only identifies virus particles which are found in the throat.” She added that, “after a while, even after a few days, the virus no longer shows when the patient is being tested, thus resulting negative. For this reason, we make sure to carry out a number of tests, not just one, in order to ensure that the virus is completely gone.”
Gauci said 17 patients are being cared for at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital, 16 at St. Thomas Hospital, two patients are in the intensive care unit, ten at Mater Dei Hospital, 2 at Mount Carmel, there are other cases at the Gozo General Hospital and at St. Vincent de Paule Residence and the rest are staying at their own home.
Gauci also said non-urgent post should not be left unopened for a few days to minimize the risk of contracting the virus from postal packages.