The Malta Independent 19 September 2020, Saturday

‘I am worried about this situation if we keep on going the way we are’ – Charmaine Gauci

Wednesday, 5 August 2020, 16:01 Last update: about 2 months ago

“I am worried about this situation if we keep on going the way we are”, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said on Wednesday as the number of Covid-19 cases continued to spike.

Gauci was speaking in a fortnightly question and answer session with the Times of Malta on Wednesday when she was asked whether she is worried about the current situation pertaining to the virus.

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“I am worried about this situation if we keep on going the way we are. We need the cooperation of the public.  The public must control wherever they are going. We are utilising all the mitigation measures which we have in our hands, but we need the cooperation of everyone, and we appeal for more protection of vulnerable people as well”, Gauci said.

The number of Covid-19 cases has spiked to the point that there are now 249 active cases of the virus in Malta, although over 100 of those are migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean and isolated immediately upon arrival meaning that they have no bearing on local transmission of the virus.

Gauci was speaking before it was announced that 20 new cases of the virus had been found locally over and above another 16 migrants who tested positive on Tuesday night.

Gauci was asked a whole raft of questions pertaining to the pandemic.

She acknowledged that the demand for testing has increased a lot, and noted that they are prioritising symptomatic people first so that they can be diagnosed and isolated.  The contacts of positive cases are also immediately quarantined and set up to be tested so that they can be followed up from a clinical aspect.

There is then a waiting list for others who would like to get tested, but Gauci said that people need to understand that in the current scenario authorities need to prioritise those who most urgently need to be tested.

Gauci also revealed that two tourists have tested positive for the virus since the airport reopened. In one case she said it was quite clear that it was an imported case, while in the other it was less clear on whether it was imported or whether transmission occurred  in Malta.

In such a case, a person – even if a tourist – must remain in Malta until they have recovered and are not permitted to leave.  Strict quarantine guidelines are maintained, she said.

Gauci said that when it comes to the reopening of schools, they were taking things one step at a time and drawing up several plans for various scenarios.  This reflects a document which was reported on two days ago, which presented three different scenarios for how schools may begin operating again at the end of next month.

Gauci said that that Malta’s reproduction number has now exceeded 1, meaning that “we need to take control of the situation and the public needs to control more what they are doing and where they are going”.

Statistician Vincent Marmara told The Malta Independent that Malta’s reproduction number currently stands at 1.39.

Finally, asked whether spot checks on those who are meant to be quarantined were still being carried out, Gauci confirmed that they are still being done, describing the checks as one of the “fortes” of Malta’s strategy.

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