The Superintendent of Public Health on Wednesday blamed the UK variant of COVID-19 for a surge in new cases.

Charmaine Gaudi told Times of Malta's Ask Charmaine programme that new measures to contain the spread continue to be discussed and will be introduced on the basis of what is happening in the community. But people also need to ask themselves whether they have been fully observing current restrictions, she said.

"We make our recommendations on what we see," she said, and the authorities will consider measures which they see as most effective. 

She stressed the need for much stricter control and measures that need to be taken by everyone. 

"We need to be more careful to wash hands, wear masks and, very important, do not stay close to each other," she said. She also stressed that people should not go to work and should not send children to school when they have symptoms. 

The situation in schools, she said, was a reflection of the situation in the community, but the authorities were working to 'save schools' since education was very important.  

Watch the programme below.

On contract tracing, Gauci said booking for tests is up to date and symptomatic people are tested within a day. A team from Mater Dei then contacts patients who test positive to assess their clinic condition and decide whether hospital treatment is needed. Other people then seek to establish where the virus was contracted and what contacts there were. People may be given backdated instructions about quarantine because the date is established from the last known day of contact she said. She added that no children are being treated for COVID-19 in hospital. 

On the fact that people in quarantine no longer need to be re-tested after 14 days, Gauci explained that studies had shown that such people were no longer infectious. This was the case all over Europe.

Replying to a number of questions on vaccination, Gauci said people having a simple cold can get the jab, but it was not recommended for those with a fever.

She said the vaccine programme is a couple of weeks ahead of the original plan and it will be speeded up further as supplies come in. 

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