The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

Watch: Weekly Covid-19 briefing; 1 death, 123 new cases and 105 recoveries

Friday, 4 December 2020, 12:26 Last update: about 3 months ago

Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci is delivering her weekly Covid-19 briefing.

123 new cases were found overnight, and 105 people have recovered.

An 82-year-old man who tested positive on 21 November died on Thursday evening. He was a resident at St Vincent de Paul Residence. 

The total number of deaths is 149.

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3,100 tests were performed over the past 24 hours, for a total of 439,477.

The number of active cases currently stands at 2,051.

The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic has now risen to 10,320.

Gauci said there are 17 patients at Mater Dei’s Intensive Therapy Unit, 11 at the Infectious Diseases Unit and 45 in other wards.

There are 23 patients at Boffa hospital, 24 at St Thomas Hospital, 10 at Karin Grech, 64 at the Good Samaritan facility, 3 at Mount Carmel and 3 at the Gozo General Hospital.

 

Gauci explained that the 7-day moving average has gone down to 113 from 120 last week, but she appealed to people to remain vigilant, since the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is noting an increase across the globe.

Malta's positivity rate has also gone below the 4% mark from last week, which she said is a good sign when comparing this statistic to other countries like Poland (47%) and Bulgaria (37%).

The majority of positive case clusters are still coming from households (189 cases this week), followed by transmission at the workplace (48 cases this week).

Gauci noted that the number of active cases is beginning to stabilise. 68 of the active cases are from Gozo while the remaining are in Malta.

The majority of new cases this week relate to the 25 to 44-year-old age group, but there is also a number of cases who are elderly as well. Compared to last week, the number of cases among 85 to 89-year-olds has increased, she said, adding that the moving average age is 45.

The total number of deaths amounts to 17 since last week.

There were 810 tests conducted at the airport during this week with 5 testing positive; one from Austria, one from Germany and three form Italy.

Gauci once again called for the public to keep mitigation measures in mind and abiding by social distancing, hand hygiene and mask usage guidelines.

Regarding the latter, she said that the WHO has published updated guidelines on the use of masks, with what typed should be used in healthcare settings and also in the community.

She explained that anyone making or using cloth masks has to keep three things in mind; that it is breathable, tight on the face and chin and most importantly that it protects from aerosols.

In order to achieve this, the inner layer needs to be absorbent so that it catches any aerosols exhaled by the wearer, while the outside should be made of polyester or a similar material to repel microbes from outside. The middle layer then needs to serve as a filter for the droplets entering or exiting the mask.

Gauci added that masks with exhalation filters should not be used in public as it defeats the purpose of avoid the spread of aerosols.

"We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now, thanks to the EU companies working on the vaccine. This is the first step and our aim is to reduce deaths by protecting the most vulnerable first. Then eventually we can spread it throughout the community. Until then let us keep in mind the success we have had and stick with the measures."

Gauci was asked if the fact that the vaccine has to be administered in two doses means that the number of vaccines Malta is receiving needs to be doubled. The Superintendent said that this is not the case as the authorities' plan has always been based on the fact that people need to have two doses, so each person will have two doses form the vaccine allocated to them.

Asked if people who had tested positive for the virus should still take the vaccine, Gauci said that this is highly encouraged as "from what we know, when a person had Covid-19, the immunity is not as effective, but the immunity from the vaccine is much stronger and long lasting."

Asked if there is a way of filtering out influenza cases from Covid-19 cases prior to testing so as to reduce pressure on swab centres, Gauci said that it is difficult to differentiate the symptoms, so the best option is to have everyone test when needed. "This is why we keep increasing the number of testing hubs."

Asked about the total number of people in quarantine, Gauci said that the total stands at 4,168 people.

 

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