Malta's coronavirus reproduction rate has gone down to below 1 in a milestone for the fight against COVID-19, the health authorities confirmed on Thursday.

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci told Times of Malta during her daily briefing that the rate of reproduction of the virus is "slowly going down".

It has now dropped to under 1, which means each infected person passes it on to less than one other.

Health authorities around the world have been aiming to get the reproduction rate, known as R0, down to below 1 as part of efforts to contain the outbreak. 

Germany began lifting its coronavirus prevention measures after its virus reproduction rate had reached around 0.7.

For the last week the number of daily recoveries has been higher than the number of new cases. 

And this week, rather than beginning her daily briefings with the number of new cases, Gauci has started the updates by detailing the number of recoveries.

Of the 445 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 204 people have since recovered.

On Wednesday Health Minister Chris Fearne said Malta could start relaxing some of its measures in days but, Gauci insisted on Thursday everyone need to remain vigilant. 

"We need to monitor the situation closely in case the reproduction rate goes up again," she said when asked about measures getting lifted.

The superintendent said the low numbers were down to measures and the public's co-operation with them. The fact that authorities had prepared for higher numbers of cases than they are currently recording had also helped keep the situation under control.

"That is why we had taken certain steps and had a contingency plan," she said.

"The fact is that the measures have helped us keep numbers down."

On Thursday and for the second day running, Malta registered just one new coronavirus case while a further 39 patients recovered. 

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