Malta enters 2021 with a “shot of hope” after the devastating coronavirus pandemic that left 219 families bereft.

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci, who became the face of the pandemic with her constant updates on the virus, said the new year could begin on a note of optimism.

“When the airplane with the first doses of the vaccine landed at the Malta International Airport last Saturday, I experienced what I could imagine the Maltese felt when the Santa Maria Convoy arrived at our shores in 1942 – a feeling of hope,” she told Times of Malta.  

I experienced what I could imagine the Maltese people felt when the Santa Maria Convoy arrived at our shores in 1942

“This is the vaccine that offers a shot of hope for the pandemic. Let us remain vigilant and safe as the vaccine rollout enfolds,” she urged.

COVID-19 was first detected in Malta back in March 7, and every day since then the authorities have published the latest statistics. In nine months, there have been 12,774 cases of COVID-19 detected on the island.

A huge number of tests have been carried out – 514,757 – a figure equivalent to more than the population of the country.

By the end of the year, Malta, commended for its high rate of testing, had 1,434 active cases.

But after an initial first wave of the virus, when only nine deaths were recorded, a second, devastating wave that impacted homes for the elderly increased the death toll to 219.

Gauci said the pandemic has had a devastating impact on everyone, however “the hard work of everyone focusing on managing this pandemic has led to mitigating the impact as far as we could”.

“The whole world celebrated when the results of vaccine clinical trials showed encouraging results, and even more as vaccines started being licensed for use,” she added.

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