Four people died while COVID-19 positive in the past day while new virus cases climbed to 673, ending a five-day stretch of fewer detected infections.

The four victims were three men, aged 77, 87 and 88, and a woman, aged 86. This brings the virus death toll up to 496.

A total of 1,179 patients recovered overnight, leaving Malta with a total of 13,104 active cases. 

Of those patients, 116 are receiving treatment in hospital including nine at Mater Dei Hospital's intensive treatment unit. On Tuesday, there were 126  in hospital, including nine ITU patients. 

Not all COVID patients in hospital are there because of the virus: as of last week, 60 per cent were admitted with other ailments and then found to be positive.

Malta experienced a surge in new infections in late December, when the number of new daily cases reached four figures on several consecutive days.

Authorities banned standing events and imposed a 1am curfew in response. From Monday, a vaccine certificate will be needed for entry into many public buildings. 

Vaccination

A total of 288,561 people have now received a booster dose with Health Minister Chris Fearne saying on Wednesday that 67% of adults in Malta have now received their booster dose.

On Monday, Malta had the fourth-highest booster rate among European Union members, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Control.

Adults who wish to register for the vaccine can do so at https://vaccin.gov.mt/.

Booster doses will take on added importance come January 17, when new rules will prohibit entry into cafes, restaurants, theatres, gyms and other such places to anyone without a valid vaccine certificate. 

The government's intention to make those updated certificates also valid for overseas travel has run into EU headwinds, however, with the EU Commission noting that member states have agreed to different rules. 

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