Fourteen new COVID-19 cases were identified between Friday and Saturday, health authorities have said. 

Nine of the new cases have been classified as asymptomatic - meaning patients exhibited no symptoms when they tested positive. 

It is the third consecutive day in which the number of newly-detected coronavirus cases has reached double digits. Malta has now confirmed 546 cases of COVID-19. 

The new cases were detected from 1,727 swab tests – a national one-day record number of tests. 

Two further patients have recovered from the virus, meaning 450 patients have now overcome the infection. Healthcare professionals currently have 90 active cases in their care.

Three patients are currently at Boffa Hospital. Six are at St Thomas Hospital, two are at Mater Dei’s Infectious Diseases Unit and three are at Karin Grech Hospital. 

The new figures were released, unannounced, by the Health Ministry via Facebook. 

Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci provided more details about the new cases during her daily COVID-19 briefing. 

The higher number of asymptomatic cases reflected the growing number of daily tests being carried out, she said. 

Malta's R factor - the reproduction rate of the virus - has remained below 1 on average over the past week, with the odd spike, she said. 

Gauci had said on Friday that the country's R factor stood at 1.3.  

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should remain in isolation even if they test negative for the virus, Gauci emphasised, as they might be in the early stages of infection and not have a high enough viral load for the virus to be detected at that stage.

High-risk cases are tested twice over a number of days, to ensure there is no risk of a false negative test result, she said.   

Antibody testing kits, which can determine whether a person has developed immunity to the COVID-19 virus, are still having their validity assessed, she said. 

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Case details

Two of the symptomatic cases are of people who work in customer-facing jobs. One concerns a Maltese man aged 18 who showed symptoms on May 15. He works in a retail outlet.

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The second is of a Maltese woman aged 23 who reported symptoms on May 11. She works at a takeaway. The shop has been closed for disinfection and contact with customers was minimal. 

Gauci said the retail shop worker had worn a mask and that customers were not at risk, though she did not clarify, when asked, how authorities could be sure that the worker was using a mask appropriately. 

The takeaway where the 23-year-old woman works has been closed for disinfection. 

Other symptomatic cases are of:

A Maltese man aged 28 who works with a private company and reported symptoms on May 14. 

A Maltese man aged 62 who reported tiredness and muscle soreness on May 13. He works at a private company. 

A Maltese man aged 60 who reported a blocked nose and lack of smell on May 13. 

Nine of the 14 cases have been classified as asymptomatic. They are: 

A Maltese man aged 40 from Gozo. He works in the public sector. 

A Maltese man aged 38 who also works in the public sector. 

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A Maltese man aged 64 who works with a private company. 

A Maltese man aged 54 who is a Mater Dei healthcare worker. An assessment into the exposure others had is under way. 

A  Maltese woman aged 61 who tested positive when she was admitted to Mater Dei for an unrelated condition. 

A Maltese woman who works as a carer in a hospital ward where a number of other cases were previously identified. She was already in quarantine. 

A Maltese man aged 54. He works in the same ward as the previous case. 

A foreign woman aged 33 who also works in the same ward. She was in contact with a COVID-19 patient and was in quarantine. 

A Maltese woman aged 22 who is also a healthcare worker, though in a different ward.

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