The number of people suffering heat-related symptoms who were admitted to Mater Dei hospital in July increased tenfold over the same month last year.
Health data sent to Times of Malta shows that in June and July of 2022, three and nine patients respectively were admitted to Mater Dei wards from the emergency department with the triage notes including “heatstroke”, “sunstroke”, “hyperthermia” and “sunburn”.
However, in June and July of this year, five and 94 patients respectively were admitted to Mater Dei wards from the emergency department with the same triage terms, a Health Ministry spokesperson said.
There were no deaths linked to dehydration or hyperthermia in June 2022 and June 2023.
While two deaths were recorded in July 2022, a total of 21 deaths were recorded in July 2023 with the National Mortality Register, indicating dehydration or hyperthermia as the main cause of death on the death certificate.
Previously, the health authorities told Times of Malta that no deaths linked to hyperthermia or dehydration were recorded prior to July 20 this year, meaning all 21 deaths were recorded as Malta struggled through a heatwave coupled with a series of power cuts lasting days at a time in some places.
The temperature peaked on July 24 at 42.7°C, equalling the highest ever recorded for the month. It was also just over one degree short of the highest ever, which was 43.8°C measured in August 1999. On July 24, the Met Office said the temperature actually felt like 44°C.
Throughout the last few days of July, the health authorities urged people to take necessary precautions and protect themselves from the effects of heat.