Three more patients have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases registered in Malta up to 21 . 

In a press briefing on Sunday morning held at Mater Dei Hospital, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said another three people had tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday evening. 

That brings the total number of people who tested positive for coronavirus in Malta to 21 after five new cases were registered on Saturday. 

Gauci also confirmed a second patient, the father of Malta's patient zero, has recovered.

On Friday, the health authorities confirmed one of the earlier patients had also recovered and would be discharged from Mater Dei Hospital.

Details of new cases

The first of the three patients to test positive is a a 21-year-old health care worker who went to Dublin on March 7 and came back on March 10. He first showed symptoms on March 14. The man went under quarantine upon showing symptoms, which is also when he stopped going to work.

Three of his relatives, who live with him in the same house, are also being kept in quarantine.

Gauci said the health authorities have evaluated the situation at his work place and found that six colleagues were in contact with him. They have now also all been put under mandatory quarantine.

The health worker returned to work for a day but Gauci said he had no face to face contact with patients for more than 15 minutes.

A risk assessment on the rest of the flight has been carried out and passengers are being monitored for symptoms, she said. 

The second patient to test positive on Saturday evening is a 20-year-old student who travelled to Dublin. He travelled to Ireland on March 5 and returned on March 10, attending lectures before he started showing symptoms on March 12. 

A risk assessment is also being carried out to trace persons who might have been in contact with the student. 

The third patient is a 21-year-old Portuguese man who came to Malta from Madrid for work on March 10 and started developing symptoms two days later, on March 12. He had minimal contact with others and went into self-quarantine immediately, Gauci said. 

In all three cases, there is no evidence that there was any transmission on the flights. 

The number of COVID-19 cases has been on the rise since the first case was reported last week, with new patients testing positive daily. 

No local transmission

All the cases have so far been imported, meaning those with COVID-19 contracted the virus while abroad, Gauci iterated.

"It’s important to observe quarantine if you’ve been abroad or had contact with people who have been abroad," Gauci appealed. She said transmission right now is only occurring when a patient already has symptoms.

Of the 722 tests with those with the symptoms carried out so far, only 21 have come back positive, she said. 

A further 631 tests of those going to Mater Dei Hospital have all been negative.

A total of three people have been caught by the police breaking the mandatory quarantine.

In recent days the government halted flights to Malta from Italy, German, France, Spain and Switzerland as the number of cases in the five countries continued to spike. 

On Friday, Prime Minister Robert Abela also announced all travellers flying in to Malta, be it residents or tourists, must stay home under mandatory quarantine for two weeks. Anyone caught not doing so will be fined. On Saturday, the authorities checked up on 90 people who should be under mandatory quarantine and of those, two were not home. 

The government has also closed down schools and universities as well as child care centres in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. Events that attract large crowds have also been cancelled while many restaurants, gyms and other places of entertainment have also shut their doors. 

Meanwhile, Mater Dei Hospital is also stepping up efforts in preparation for a potential dramatic coronavirus outbreak. CEO Celia Falzon told Times of Malta on Sunday that all non-urgent surgeries will have to be postponed in the coming days. 

If you have coronavirus symptoms dial 111 or 2132 4086. 

If you are stuck abroad and need assistance dial 00356 2204 2200.

If you are in quarantine and need help, including food or medicine delivery, dial 2141 1411.

If you need education-related advice, dial 2598 1000.

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