The Malta Independent 25 May 2020, Monday

Watch: Coronavirus briefing - Six new cases, including one-month old baby; total reaches 299

Albert Galea Wednesday, 8 April 2020, 12:25 Last update: about 3 months ago

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said six Coronavirus cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 299. The number of swab tests carried out yesterday amounted to 993.

The new cases include a one-month old baby, who becomes the youngest Coronavirus patient in Malta.

The baby boy had already been in hospital, she said, but an investigation is being carried out to see if other babies in the ward have been infected. 

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She said that the small number registered today, compared to the 52 cases registered yesterday, does not signify much as single days cannot be seen as a trend. 

She said five of the cases registered today were locally transmitted, the other was related to travelling.

One of the persons who tested positive in the last 24 hours was a 57-year-old woman who went to Mater Dei Hospital with an unrelated condition. 

The other cases were of a 47-year-old woman and three men aged 63, 56 (a health care worker) and 52, with the latter having returned from England.

In some of the cases, a contact tracing exercise is being carried out among family members who were in contact with the infected persons. With regard to the health care worker, the exercise includes the worker's colleagues but no patients were exposed to him, Gauci said.

Gauci said that it is true that the number is much smaller than yesterday’s but reiterated that these individual numbers do not mean much.  She said that there is a slowly rising trend which has to be retained so the number of people requiring hospital care or ITU treatment is kept as low as possible.

She said that the department is trying to send test results to people as quickly as possible, and noted that they had now introduced a new SMS system wherein people who take the test can receive their results by SMS.  That means that there are now three methods for the receipt of information: SMS, telephone, and email.

She noted that those who are called for the test are symptomatic and that it is important to go straight home after doing the test and not to work.  Even if the test comes out negative, persons who were tested should wait until their symptoms subside before leaving the house as there is still the risk of them transmitting unrelated microbes.

Asked by The Malta Independent to confirm whether a case had been found at a supermarket which was not the establishment reported in previous weeks and, if so, what measures had been taken accordingly, Gauci confirmed that such a case had indeed been found but investigations resulted that the person who had tested positive worked in the supermarket’s store – meaning that contact to other people was minimal. 

She noted that a risk assessment was carried out by Environmental Health Inspectors, and that measures of disinfection had been taken accordingly.

Also asked by this newsroom about international news which show countries such as Norway and Austria start to relax containment measures, including by reopening schools, and the risks of such a relaxation – along with what the possibility of similar measures in the short-term being relaxed in the short term in Malta was, Gauci said that Malta is still in the containment phase of the virus.

“We are still going up in the curve.  There is no indication that we are at the peak; it is still very early”, she said.

“Before we see that we are at a plateau and that the number of cases is starting to decline in a sustainable manner, then we have to be very careful on what measures should be relaxed”, she added before noting that they will continue to strengthen public cooperation, which has been good so far, and emphasised that everyone should follow health authority guidelines.

Asked about situations where children are part of divorced families, Gauci said that where children alternate between one family or another, the whole picture must be seen and a balance must be reached between public health and the child’s contact with parents.

The most important thing remains to reduce contact with people from outside the family.

Answering another question, Gauci said that finding people who test positive for the virus is very worrying, which is why measures on social distancing continue to be emphasised.

 

She also reminded that people who have to go to hospital have nothing to be afraid of – hospitals are split between Covid and Non-Covid, so people who require care for other things at hospital should attend anyway.

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