The Malta Independent 7 May 2021, Friday

Reproduction number climbs to 1.21 after record week of Covid-19 cases – Marmara

Albert Galea Sunday, 28 February 2021, 07:33 Last update: about 3 months ago

Malta’s reproduction number has climbed to 1.21 after a record week of Covid-19 cases, statistician Vincent Marmara said in his weekly exclusive video blog with The Malta Independent on Sunday.

The reproduction factor of the virus is one of the key figures which countries across the world have been trying to reduce ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began. The aim for countries has been to reduce the ratio to a level of 1 – which would mean that one person would transmit the virus to one other person.

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The reproduction number is based on a variety of factors, such as the source of new cases – for instance, whether they are imported or whether they are part of particular clusters – and the amount of testing being carried out.

Last week was a record week for Covid-19 cases, with a total of 1,419 cases reported – a significant increase on the 1,066 cases reported in the previous week.

6.5% of the swab tests administered returned a positive result – also a record high, and significantly higher than the 5.3% tests which came back positive in the previous week.

12 deaths were reported in the past week, one less than the week before and on par with the number of deaths reported in the previous three weeks.

1,260 people recovered from the virus in the past week – also a record high, although Marmara observed that this is to be expected, given that past weeks saw high number of cases being reported.

This 89% of the number of new cases in the past week, meaning that the number of active cases has increased somewhat over the past week.

The average number of vaccine doses being administered per day has continued to increase in the past week, with a peak of 2,783 doses administered on 24 February.  Marmara said that around 5% of the population has now received both doses of the vaccine, while 10% have received at one dose.

As a result of all of the above, Malta’s reproduction factor now stands at 1.21 – climbing from the 0.9 which it had stood at for the past two weeks.

There are a number of factors to the increase in cases, Marmara said. The recent carnival holiday period is no doubt one of them, he explained before adding that we know that such holiday periods have an adverse effect on the situation owing to people who do not follow social distancing measures.

The presence of the more transmissible UK variant however, he said, is also leaving a significant effect.

Internationally, Marmara said that there were slight increases in cases in Spain, Italy, and Germany, while there were decreases in cases in the UK and Spain.

Concluding, he said that this is a pandemic where there were a lot of unknowns which become apparent as time passes.  The effect of new variants is one such unknown, and the presence of the UK variant in Malta, he said, means that the public must continue to be responsible.

“We have not returned to a sense of normality.  Cases are still high, and we need to be careful and continue to act responsibly”, he said.

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