The weekly number of new COVID-19 cases in Malta has dropped to levels which are similar to the number of cases found two and three weeks ago, but social distancing remains key to keeping Malta’s curve down, statistician Vincent Marmara said in the first of his exclusive weekly analysis with The Malta Independent on Sunday.
With 72 cases between Friday 10 April and Friday 17 April – the sixth week since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Malta – the weekly case count has decreased significantly from the 148 new cases found the week before.
The case count for this past week is however very similar to the case counts in the third and fourth week of the outbreak, when 75 and 63 new cases were found respectively, Marmara’s analysis finds.
“This means that if we keep seeing this weekly count decreasing, then the fifth week of the outbreak was the peak in our first wave – and I must emphasise this point; we may have a second wave like we are seeing in other countries where cases decreased, but then increased again after measures were relaxed,” Marmara explains.
Malta’s total case count as of Saturday is of 426 cases, of which 324 are active. 99 people have officially recovered while another three have unfortunately passed away.
Marmara noted that the principal aim of all the measures currently in place is to keep Malta’s curve down and in fact, he said, our curve is lower than that in countries such as Italy, Spain, or the United Kingdom.
“However, this is all dependent on applying social distancing measures properly so that we can effectively control the spread of the virus in the country,” he observed.
Marmara noted that, naturally, the curve and its nature is dependent on various factors. One such factor, for instance, is the existence of a particular cluster where there is a high number of cases, as has been the situation in the Ħal Far Open Centre. There are, so far, over 30 cases at the Open Centre, which is currently locked down completely. Such clusters would see the curve take another shape, meaning that the curve would have to be taken with that context in mind as well.
“Social distancing remains important as it controls the curve. If we do reduce the measures, it will be good to keep studying the effective reproduction ratio of the virus so that we can see how big the spread is in the country after the measures are reduced,” he said.
As measures are reduced, he noted, the situation must continue to be followed closely so that if there is indeed a second wave, it can be contained and controlled as much as possible – much like our own curve has been controlled so far.
He noted that the number of cases on a week-by-week basis will continue to give a clearer picture of the shape of Malta’s curve and where it lies.