An elderly Gozitan woman has become the first person to die from the coronavirus in Malta.
The woman, 92, died on Wednesday afternoon at Gozo hospital. She had underlying medical conditions including heart and kidney problems as well as diabetes.
Health Minister Chris Fearne expressed the government's condolences, saying he was confirming the woman's death with a heavy heart even though the woman's doctors had told him she risked dying even if she got a cold.
The minister underlined the importance of vulnerable people staying indoors and not going out except for their most essential needs.
The coming days of Easter were a time when families traditionally got together. "This year we need to avoid such gatherings," he said.
Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said that even though this patient was of poor health, it was still saddening to hear the news. "We all stopped when we heard," she said.
Asked by Times of Malta how the woman was infected, Gauci said the woman was living in an institution and there were many ways how the virus could have been carried, including visitors.
Asked whether elderly people would be moved from an old people's home forming part of Gozo hospital, Fearne said arrangements had been made for a site to be used as an old people's home by mid-April. The elderly would therefore be moved from Dar St Anna to the new location.
The woman's death came a month and one day after Malta detected its first virus cases.
299 cases have since been confirmed, with four patients receiving intensive treatment.
The elderly woman’s diagnosis was announced on Tuesday.
Malta saw six new cases confirmed on Wednesday after a spike of 52 new cases on Tuesday.
PN leader Adrian Delia expressed his sadness at the woman's death and extended his condolences to her family.
He urged the people to strictly follow the directives issued by the health authorities as an act of solidarity with each other.
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