The health authorities have set up a special unit to treat elderly with COVID-19, Charmaine Gauci announced on Friday. 

The superintendent of Public Health is giving details on the COVID-19 situation in Malta during her weekly televised update.

The centre, dubbed the Good Samaritan, is run by a private entity. 

"When we had a number of old people in homes with the virus, we wanted to invest so that people in such places can be isolated. The centre is run by a private entity but if they need hospital care, they are treated at Mater Dei hospital," Gauci said. 

The health briefing kicked off just moments after the health authorities announced 76 new cases were registered overnight. A further 110 patients have recovered. Earlier on Friday, the health authorities announced a 68-year-old man had died while infected with the virus. 

The new cases were detected from 3,075 swab tests.

Malta now has 1,891 active cases. 

Friday marked the first time since October 2 that the number of recoveries was higher than that of new cases, bringing the number of active cases down for the first time in weeks. 

Hospital situation

12 at Mater Dei's ITU
12 at the infectious diseases unit
21 in other wards at Mater Dei
19 at Boffa
16 at St Thomas
One at Karin Grech

There is also a patient at the Good Samaritan facility. 

Two of those at the ITU are under 55 years old. A baby tested positive for the virus in recent days, though no details have been provided. The baby's condition is good. 

Of the total active cases, 61 people are from Gozo. 

The majority of people with the virus are aged between 25 and 34, with the average age currently at 39 years. 

Family cluster still biggest

The largest number of new cases continue to emerge from the family and work clusters, Gauci said. A total of 161 cases were from households while a further 57 came from workplaces. Fifteen cases were detected from social gatherings with other positive cases and six were imported. Some 205 tests were carried out at the airport.  

"Most cases are inevitably transmitted in family homes so if you’re positive avoid contact and keep your distance," Gauci said.

On social gatherings, Gauci said the numbers from these clusters had started to slowly go down. 

She urged those in close contact with positive cases to stay home and follow the health authorities' instructions. Some, she said, insisted on still going out despite being told not to do so. 

The Superintendent again urged people to wear masks, wash their hands regularly and to follow social distancing rules. 

'Too early to say numbers going down' 

On the slight decrease in numbers on Friday, Gauci said it was crucial to rush to the conclusion the numbers are going down. 

"Since the introduction of measure we did see a difference in numbers but it’s the measures all together that make an impact . Still, despite having a number like today's, we still cannot say numbers going down as it’s too early and numbers are still varying.

"If we look at what’s happening abroad, the numbers are still going up so we have to be cautious as we can easily be in the same situation. So be careful and don’t think we can relax the measures," Gauci said.  

Asked about extending measures beyond December 1, Gauci said the authorities could not set targets for this as the situation needs to be evaluated holistically. 

"We need to look at where the risk is and what the situation in hospitals is," she said. 

Keep children home if they are unwell

One sick child can infect an entire class, Gauci warned, urging parents to not send children to school if they are unwell. 

She confirmed, however, that transmission between children in schools was not high. Schools, she said, were doing their utmost to make sure the class environment is a safe one. 

Majority of patients who died had 'COVID pneumonia'

Gauci said the majority of the 61 patients that died while infected with the virus had what is known as 'COVID pneumonia". 

Such a complication, she said, often leads to death. 

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.