The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Watch: Coronavirus briefing - one new case takes total to 600, active cases remain at 125

Friday, 22 May 2020, 12:18 Last update: about 7 days ago

Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said one new Coronavirus case was registered today, whiile another has recovered.

This brings the total number of cases to 600, with six deaths. The number of active cases remains at 125, with 469 recoveries.

The total number of swabs carried out yesterday was 1,560 for a total of 57,784.

Gauci said that, over two days (she did not deliver a press conference on Thursday), the ages of the people who recovered - a total of four - were one in the 20s, two in the 30s and one in the 70s.

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Of the total of 16 cases registered over two days (15 were reported on Thursday), Gauci said that five had symptoms, seven were caught with contact tracing exercises, and for had no symptoms but tested positive.

The patients who tested positive after experiencing symptoms include an 85-year-old woman who suffers from other chronic conditions and is now in hospital in stable condition. The others are three women aged 70, 56 and 27, and a 23-year-old man. The latter two cases were recorded in Gozo.

The seven who tested positive after a contact tracing exercise included two men aged 59 and 38 who had been in contact with a relative who had the virus. There were also a 72-year-old man who is a patient at Karen Grech Hospital and and Indian 32-year-old health care worker at the same hospital who also tested positive.

A 45-year-old man who works at Mater Dei Hospital but is not a health care worker tested positive, as did a 69-year-old woman who was in contact with a relative who had the virus. A man from the Philippines, aged 33, who works in an old people's home also has the disease.

Three of the last four cases involved people who went to Mater Dei Hospital with an unrelated condition and tested positive. They are a 71-year-old woman, a 56-year-old mand and a 59-year-old French man. The other case is of a health care worker from the Philippines, a woman aged 55, who had not been in contact with any of the cases that were caught earlier at the hospital.

Gauci said that eight patients are at Boffa Hospital, six at St Thomas Hospital, six at Mater Dei Hospital (no-one at ITU) and five at Karen Grech Hospital.

Asked about comments from both the MHRA President Tony Zahra – who has described mitigation measures as “project fear” – and the Medical Association of Malta, who called for the delay of measure relaxation because of a second wave in cases, Gauci said that authorities had always been clear and transparent when it came to speaking about cases.

She said that the number of cases found in April when compared to the number of tests carried out was higher than it is now, stating that authorities look at the average number of cases compared with the number of tests carried out.

She said that caution remains a key point, which is why mitigation measures have been imposed even when re-opening outlets.  She added that it is our collective responsibility now to follow these measures.

Asked by The Malta Independent whether those who are considered to be vulnerable to complications from Covid-19 should return to work if they work in restaurants or hotels, Gauci said that authorities has, from the very beginning, instructed these people to stay at home unless for essential functions so that they can be protected.

In this regard, Gauci said that these people have the right to stay at home even if they work at restaurants or hotels.

Asked by this newsroom whether it was safe for hairdressers to do blow-dries, Gauci said that research with regards to whether this could accelerate transmission of the virus if one has symptoms is still unclear, which is why it is recommended that these are not done.  Hairdressers, she said, have every right to refuse this practice.

Asked about the average figure of 55 tests per day in Gozo, and whether this is high enough as a number to ascertain the true situation in Gozo, Gauci said that authorities are going to continue strengthening the testing capacity in Gozo much like has been done in Malta.

Speaking about the situation at the Hal Far Open Centre meanwhile, Gauci said that there are very few cases left there, so the centre is once again open.  The Centre had been locked down after a surge in the number of cases in there, but recoveries and testing has been sufficient to the point that it is now once again open.

Gauci said that through cohorting and testing, they had managed to control the situation very well, adding that the residents are still being monitored for symptoms.

Finally, speaking about the re-opening of restaurants – which came into force today – Gauci said that they had worked hand-in-hand with the Malta Tourism Authority to come up with the mitigation measures necessary for the re-opening to happen.

 

She said that inspections are in fact ongoing both by the MTA and Environmental Health Officers, to the point that outlets need to be certified as compliant in order to be allowed to reopen. 

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