Six new patients have tested positive for COVID-19, health authorities have confirmed, with the new cases linked to a patient who attended an all-weekend hotel party.
The coronavirus spike brings the total number of active cases in Malta back to double digits for the first time in weeks. It is also the highest daily number of new cases in over a month – Malta last registered six new cases on June 17.
On Thursday, health authorities appealed to anyone who attended last weekend's three-day 'Hotel Takeover' party to get tested after one guest tested positive for COVID-19.
By Friday, five other guests, all of whom attended the party in a group, were also confirmed to have the virus. The sixth new case was a relative.
Health authorities are continuing with contract tracing to find out if the new infection is more widespread.
Staff at the hotel have been tested and the hotel cleaned, a Radisson spokesperson said. Event organisers G7 Events say they are cooperating with authorities.
Another weekend-long party, Offline WKD, was set to take place at the hotel from Friday afternoon, with up to 300 guests, but it was cancelled at the last minute.
A Radisson Blu spokesperson said the it had made the decision "out of an abundance of caution".
"The hotel’s management continues to place the health and safety of guests and staff alike foremost in any consideration, and continues to abide stringently to all health protocols including a focus on enhanced cleaning, PPE and other regulations as directed by the local authorities."
He said the coronavirus prevention protocols for the hotel, which remains in operation, had been audited by authorities as recently as Friday morning and "everything was found to be in order".
Restrictions on events with large groups of people were lifted in Malta in July along with a commercial flight ban, leaving event organisers free to plan large-scale events, such as the 'Hotel Takeover'.
After the appeal to get tested, it is understood health authorities were inundated with calls from party goers.
But it might be a few more days before the health authorities can actually know the extent of the problem and whether there will be a bigger spike in coronavirus numbers, sources have said.
Aside from the fact that the virus’ symptoms can surface up to 14 days after infection, some of those still at the party might not yet have reached out through the 111 helpline to book a swab test.
It remains unclear how many people have been put under mandatory quarantine, with questions sent to the health ministry yet to be answered.
Thursday’s patient had symptoms of the virus but it is not known when these emerged and whether the patient was already feeling unwell at the party.
The spike follows concern by the World Health Organisation over the resurgence of new cases in Europe.