A 91-year-old woman has become Malta's seventeenth COVID-19 victim, the health authorities said on Friday.

She tested positive for the virus on August 26 and was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital on September 6. She died on Thursday night and had underlying health conditions, the authorities said in a statement.

Her death follows that of an 86-year-old woman who died on Monday at the Infectious Diseases Unit. 

The health ministry expressed its condolences to the family and urged the public to follow the authorities' guidelines, including frequent washing of hands and wearing of masks. 

The death comes after a spike in coronavirus cases were traced to homes for the elderly over the past few days.

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci has called on 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 on Wednesday, when nearly half of 106 new virus cases were traced to St Joseph Home for the elderly.

On Thursday the government issued a set of new measures  to help curb the spread of COVID-19 at homes for the elderly.

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