The number of people who tested positive for coronavirus in Malta has gone up to 12, the health authorities said on Friday.

Addressing a press briefing, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci also said that one of the women who tested positive earlier this week is in recovery but has not yet been discharged.

Meanwhile, the three new cases include a 45-year-old Maltese man who returned from Munich on March 7 and suffered from shortness of breath and fever on March 11.

He is self-employed but he did not have any significant contact with people, except for three other relatives.

The second case diagnosed overnight is a 40-year-old Italian man who lives and works in Malta.

He travelled to Paris on February 29 and returned to Malta on March 6. He suffered symptoms on March 10. 

The health authorities said on Friday that his work is online-based so he has not come in contact with any colleagues. However, he met two people upon his arrival who have been tested.

The third case for the day is a 30-year-old Maltese woman who is a health care worker.

Gauci said the health worker was not a nurse, but did not provide further details: “We need to respect the persons involved.” 

She travelled to Brussels on March 5 and returned on March 9, returned to work on March 10 and symptoms surfaced on March 11.

Gauci said the woman attended some social events after landing in Malta, and the authorities are tracing those she came in contact with.

The risk is minimal but we are also putting her colleagues under quarantine, Gauci said.

So far, none of the people she came in touch with are showing symptoms. 

 

All cases have been imported

"We now have 12 cases that have all been imported. We have yet to register local transmission and that is crucial," Gauci said.

Going through the investigation process, Gauci said that the larger the number of swabs, the longer it takes for results to come out.

The authorities were now expecting the number of cases to continue increasing.

Gauci said the authorities were expecting local transmission and their aim was to ensure that the impact is minimised as much as possible. There has been no local transmission yet.

Police will be calling on those in quarantine

She warned that as from today, police together with health authorities will be going around to check that those who should be under quarantine are abiding by the rules

On Thursday, two people in their 20s became the eighth and ninth COVID-19 cases on the island.

Gauci said that all nine patients diagnosed throughout the week were doing well.

“Had they not have had COVID-19, they could have been home.

"One of the women who tested positive earlier this week has tested negative twice now, so we consider her to be in recovery. She will be discharged soon but will remain under quarantine at home," Gauci said.

Gauci said that the patients were in such good condition that they were not even requiring treatment and were being kept at Mater Dei Hospital for isolation purposes.

The outbreak, now considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has seen the government take a decision to close all schools and childcare centres for a week.

Elderly people are also being encouraged to stay indoors, with the Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme supplying them with two months' worth of their medicines.

Doctors across the island are meanwhile calling on the government to lock Malta down with immediate effect, saying this is the only way to stop the virus from spreading further. 

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