Malta’s fourth coronavirus patient is a 49-year-old foreign national residing on the island and who was on holiday in Italy at the end of February.
Addressing a press briefing on Tuesday morning, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said the man had flown to Italy on February 23 and returned four days later, on February 27.
He did not self-quarantine at first, only doing so after two days, starting on February 29.
The man, Gauci said, developed a fever on March 5 and then contacted the authorities on Monday. He later tested positive for the novel virus but is in good condition and showing very little symptoms, she said, though he remains in isolation at Mater Dei Hospital.
Both his partner and their child have also been taken to the hospital and have also been tested for COVID-19 despite not yet showing any symptoms. The health authorities are still awaiting the pair’s test results.
While in self-quarantine, the man had been in contact with two other persons who have also been put under quarantine by the authorities, even though they did not meet with the man when he already had symptoms. This, Gauci said, minimised their risk of also falling ill with coronavirus.
On the passengers onboard the Treviso flight the man was on when he returned to Malta, Gauci said the patient only developed symptoms after several days had passed and so to risk others onboard was minimal.
The man is the fourth person to test positive for coronavirus since Saturday, when three other individuals – a 12-year-old and her parents – also tested positive.
‘We expect to discover more cases’
While iterating there was still no cause for alarm, despite the number of COVID-19 cases going from zero to four in a matter of days, Gauci said the authorities expected to discover more cases.
“This is good because we can isolate them. This is called active case finding and other countries are doing it too,” Gauci said.
So far, a total of 634 swabs have been carried out on individuals who either had symptoms of the coronavirus or were being treated for other respiratory conditions.
All these tests came back negative.
Later on Tuesday, the health authorities will be opening the first testing hub to speed up the testing process and which will also help isolate any potential cases.
On events that attract crowds, such as the upcoming St Patrick’s Day celebrations, Gauci said the health authorities were meeting on Tuesday to discuss the way forward.