Requests for COVID-19 swab tests have skyrocketed from 1,000 calls a day to 10,000, after a series of confirmed cases linked to a large hotel party.   

Sources told Times of Malta that the flood of calls to the 111 testing hotline had overwhelmed those manning the lines. 

Some who tried to contact the hotline to book a swab test said they had been left waiting for "nearly an hour" and were told there were no available slots for a few days time.  

Times of Malta tried to reach the 111 helpline twice on Tuesday afternoon. While an initial call was answered within five minutes, a second call made one hour later remained on hold more than 20 minutes in.  

Government sources said the resources allocated to the hotline were being tripled, while staff at swabbing entries would soon be doubled to meet demand. 

On Tuesday, health authorities said seven new COVID-19 cases were detected overnight, with the number of active cases in Malta rising to 34.

The spike comes after a Hotel Takeover Party produced a cluster of cases. A total of 18 cases are now linked to the mass event.  

Following the Hotel Takeover Summer 2020 event, health authorities urged anyone who had attended the gathering to immediately get tested for COVID-19, even if they were not exhibiting any symptoms, and to continue to monitor themselves for two weeks. 

According to the health authorities, a total 1,353 swab tests were made over the past 24 hours - a higher number of daily tests than in recent weeks, when fears over the spread of the virus had started to taper.

Some 122,348 tests have been administered since March 7, when the first patient was detected.

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