The Malta Independent 8 April 2020, Wednesday

Watch: Coronavirus briefing - 19 new cases, highest daily toll so far; total reaches 129

Wednesday, 25 March 2020, 12:21 Last update: about 13 days ago

Nineteen new Coronavirus cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, the highest single toll for a day.

Addressing the media today, Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said this brings the total number of cases so far to 129.

One of the new cases is that of an 81-year-old man, who becomes the oldest person to be diagnosed with Malta.

There are no new recoveries reported, leaving the number of persons who recovered at two. The 61-year-old man who developed pneumonia is still in an unstable condition at the Intensive Therapy Unit, but he is not in critical condition, Gauci said.

Gauci said that eight of the cases were of people who had travelled abroad, another four who had had contact with people who had already been diagnosed, and seven cases which were locally transmitted but which the health authorities could not trace back to travelling or other cases already diagnosed.

Addressing the media, Gauci said that four of the cases linked to travelling were of people who had been to England - two Maltese women aged 47 and 23, and an Englishman aged 54 and his 22-year-old son.

The other cases linked with travelling are of a Spanish woman aged 40, who had been to Spain, two men aged 52 and 19 who had been to Austria, and a 56-year-old man who was in Poland.

Four other cases were of people who had come in contact with others who had already contracted the disease. They include a 21-year-old man who now forms part of the cluster of cases linked with Agenzija Sapport. The others are of a Maltese 58-year-old man who is a relative to one of the health workers already diagnosed, a 36-year-old man who had a contact with a person who was diagnosed after going to a gym, and a 52-year-old woman who had a contact with a relative who contracted the disease.

The rest of the cases - seven of 19 - cannot be linked to travelling or other cases already registered. They are three Maltese men aged 27, 47 and 81, an Italian man aged 38, two health workers aged 24 and 23 (the latter a Chinese man who works in Malta) and a 60-year-old woman.

The Malta Independent asked Gauci how people can rest assured that they can use public transport despite the case of a bus driver who tested positive this week. She said that the health authorities have been working closely with Transport Malta from the beginning and necessary steps have been taken, such as reducing the amount of people that are allowed on board.  She explained that the risk that this bus driver has infected passengers is very low as the contact between drivers and passengers is almost non-existent. The case is being monitored closely and contact tracing has been underway since it was found out.

This newsroom also asked if the health authorities will be considering the offer made by Frank Portelli to make use of St Philip’s hospital instead of building a pre-fabricated hospital, as was announced yesterday. However, Gauci stated she was there to answer questions about Coronavirus patients, not about the strategy concerning beds.

Asked why is there have been no more recoveries reported apart from the two cases announced last week, Gauci said that two tests are required for people to be declared as having recovered. The first is carried out when the symptoms subside while the other is done 24 hours later; if both are negative it means that the patients have recovered and can no longer transmit the virus. However, testing negative for both tests consecutively can take some time as they depend on the patient’s ability to remove the virus completely. She explained that young children and elderly take much longer while suggesting that physical activities and healthy eating can increase chances of recovery.

Asked if more investment will be made for rapid testing, she said that the health authorities are always looking into bettering testing and making them more efficient. They are also looking into other mthods apart from the ones in place buy Gauci emphasised that what is important is that they are reliable and that they follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

Asked when the peak of this pandemic in Malta will arrive, Gauci said that it is diffuclt to say but the important thing is to manage the amount of peole who aren’t sick as this reduces chance of transmission.

 

A member of the media touched on the fact that despite warnings, the elderly are still gathering oustide. Gauci acknowledged that it must be difficult for them to adjust to these circumstances. However, she encouraged all elderly to stay at home while also appealing for their relatives to maintain contact with them.

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