The Malta Independent 7 August 2020, Friday

Random swabbing in elderly homes to continue through summer, Mater Dei patients still being tested

Tuesday, 14 July 2020, 15:40 Last update: about 23 days ago

Random swabbing will keep taking place in elderly homes over the summer, Health Minister Chris Fearne said, adding that Mater Dei patients are still being tested when taken into hospital.

He was answering a parliamentary question put forward by PN MP Claudette Buttiġieġ who asked the minister if the government is planning to carry out random swabbing throughout the summer in order to have a clearer picture of the COVID-19 situation in Malta.

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Throughout the pandemic, the Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci had said on multiple occasions that the health authorities were going through a process of randomly swabbing members of the public to catch out any COVID-positive individuals and evaluate the transmission rate within society.

In his answer to Buttiġieġ’s question, Fearne did not specify if random swabbing will still be done with the general public over the summer, however, he said that it will still be carried out in elderly homes across all residents and staff. Furthermore, any patients being admitted into Mater Dei Hospital are being swabbed for the virus as well.

He added that anyone can still get a swab test at any of the swabbing hubs around Malta and Gozo, even if they are not experiencing any of the symptoms which the virus comes with; varying from coughing to diarrhoea among many others. Those who do have symptoms are urged to use the helpline 111 to get tested.

The Public Health Department is also urging anyone who is in contact with large groups of people on a regular basis to get tested from time to time even if they do not show any symptoms.

Malta has been one of the few countries that were not deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing that over the course of 4 months, it had just over 600 reported positive cases, with only 9 deaths.

Fearne has recently stated that between February and June, 102,394 swab tests were carried out in total. This number includes anyone who went for the test on multiple occasions; in fact, information tabled in parliament last week by the minster himself revealed that, the total number of people to actually get tested was only 75,852.

By the time this article was published, the total amount of swab tests that have been carried out has gone up to 108,553 and Malta has registered no new COVID-19 cases for the fifth day.

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