An 84-year-old man has become the third COVID-19 patient to die in Malta. 

The senior citizen, who had underlying health conditions, tested positive for the virus on Friday when he was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital.

His condition continued to deteriorate and he died in hospital on Saturday morning, the Health Ministry said in a statement. 

Malta has identified 350 cases of COVID-19 so far. Of those, 16 have made a full recovery while three have died.

All three deaths happened this past week, with all three victims in their later years. A 92-year-old woman was the first coronavirus patient to die, with a 79-year-old man becoming the second.  

Global research indicates that coronavirus mortality rates increase rapidly with age. While death rates for people aged below 50 are below one per cent, among patients aged over 80, mortality rates are almost 10 times that. 

Patients with underlying conditions - which can range from cardiovascular issues to diabetes or respiratory disease - are also at greater risk of complications. 

Authorities have instructed people aged over 65, anyone with pre-existing medical conditions and pregnant women to remain indoors where possible.

The 84-year-old who died on Saturday morning was one of 13 newly-identified coronavirus cases announced on Friday. Two of those patients are carers at a home for the elderly, while a third is a resident at a similar home. 

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said on Friday that she and her department were working with the authority that regulates homes for the elderly to "ensure we have the situation under control".    

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