There are 44 people with COVID-19 being cared for at three hospitals, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said on Wednesday.
The Infectious Diseases Unit is hosting its highest ever number of patients, with 21 at Mater Dei Hospital, including one in intensive care.
Another 12 are at St Thomas Hospital in Qormi, and a further 11 at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital in Floriana.
Gauci was answering Times of Malta readers' questions on COVID-19 issues. Watch the programme below.
Authorities detected 106 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours - a record number- and Gauci described the situation as “serious”.
“As the numbers go up, we need to ensure that people follow the measures put in place to curb the spread. We need to reduce the number of new cases and care for the affected people.”
Whenever a person at a home for the elderly tests positive for coronavirus, all residents and staff are tested, and some asymptomatic cases are detected in the process, Gauci said.
Those who test positive are isolated, while those who come in contact with them are put in quarantine and tested regularly. Others who have not come in contact with the positive cases are closely monitored and tested.
Addressing concerns about the number of beds available for COVID-19 patients at hospitals, Gauci said Mater Dei could not be converted into an old people’s home.
"We need to make sure that the people admitted to hospital are the ones who actually need to be admitted," she said.
'Why aren’t we on lockdown?'
"Full lockdown could also harm people’s mental health and the economy, which in turn could negatively impact public health. We need to be careful about the measures we take.
"We know that there are measures that could protect us, and the health authorities are following measures implemented abroad and learning what is working and what is not," Gauci said.
'We cannot continue like this. What is the plan?'
Gauci said that not everyone was abiding with the preventative measures put in place by the health authorities, and some people were still meeting in large numbers. Apart from implementing measures and ensuring strict enforcement, people also needed to be responsible.
“We shouldn’t put on a mask [just] because we see a police officer,” she said, urging young people to avoid meeting elderly relatives if they had been to public places. Some elderly COVID-19 patients had ended up infected after coming in contact with younger people, she said.
What about schools?
Asked whether Wednesday’s spike could impact the opening of schools for the new scholastic year later this month, Gauci said that high community transmission will impact all sectors.
“You’re bound to have parents or schoolchildren who are impacted by this transmission. We need to control the situation as far as possible – the World Health Organisation is continuously issuing guidelines.”
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