The number of people who have coronavirus in Malta has reached 337, after 38 new cases were confirmed overnight.

The spike in numbers - the second largest daily tally since the outbreak began - comes after two elderly people became the first people on the islands to die from the virus.

A 92-year-old Gozitan woman and an 80-year-old Maltese man both had underlying health conditions. 

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci opened the news conference by passing on her condolences to the latest victim, whose death was announced on Thursday morning. 

The elderly man was a patient at Karin Grech hospital and was among the 50 cases announced earlier this week.

The latest figures come after the government announced it was going to ramp up the number of tests, particularly among healthcare workers and their families. 

The 38 fresh cases came from 1,018 tests.

Of the new case, 25 are female, including two pregnant women and 13 are male. One of the new cases is a four-year-old girl.

The majority are Maltese, with four non-Maltese among the new cases.

Piscopo customers asked to contact authorities

A 31-year-old Maltese man, who worked at Antonio Piscopo Wine and Spirits in Paola is among the new patients. Gauci had earlier said he was a staff member of Piscopo Cash and Carry but later clarified. 

As the man might have been in contact with customers, Gauci said it was important that anyone who visited the outlet from April 6, and who has experienced symptoms, calls 111.

She said the authorities were working on cleaning but customers with symptoms needed to get in touch, even though any contact the staff member may have had with customers was not long. 

Another of the new patients is a 19-year-old Maltese man, who had worked at technology shop Scan and began experiencing symptoms on April 1. 

He is the second staff member to contract the virus and the store has been closed.

Asymptomatic elderly care home worker among cases

Two pregnant women, one aged 38 and another aged 30, are also among the new cases. 

Another is a 51-year-old female carer at a home for the elderly, who was found to have the virus despite showing no symptoms.

The authorities have not said how many of the overall cases are asymptomatic.

Peak not reached yet

Despite the increase in numbers in recent days - there were 52 new COVID-19 patients on Tuesday - Gauci said Malta had not yet reached its peak.

On the contrary, this was only just the beginning, she said.

The comments have been echoed by Health Minister Chris Fearne and several experts.


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