The number of cases in Malta of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has risen to 10, Charmaine Gauci, the superintendent of public health, said on Wednesday.

She was replying to questions in the latest programme of Ask Charmaine, presented by Times of Malta.

The Delta variant was first identified in India and has been described by experts as highly contagious.

Gauci said Malta also currently has two cases of the Alpha variant (which originated in the UK) and three Gamma cases (the variant detected first in Brazil).   

Asked whether this meant that restrictive measures would have to be reintroduced Gauci said it was important to try to continue to limit the entry and spread of cases. It was for this reason that Malta could not accept unvaccinated UK tourists - with the Delta variant making up 90% of new cases in the UK. 

It was because of a situation such as this that the Maltese authorities had been cautious in lifting restrictions. The increase was not unexpected, with an increase having been predicted by the European Centre for Disease Control and the WHO all across  Europe. But this underlined the need for people to be responsible by getting vaccinated and respecting rules, including social distancing.

40% of new cases are imported from overseas

Malta has seen virus numbers nudge up slightly in the past few days, with 35 new cases in three days up to Tuesday and 25 on Wednesday alone.

Gauci said 40 per cent of the new cases being seen in Malta are imported cases - whether returning Maltese holidaymakers or tourists. 

Three young people, all foreigners, are receiving hospital treatment. All had not been vaccinated. Their condition is stable.

Gauci said there have not been any new cases in old people's homes for weeks, another sign that vaccines are working.

She strongly appealed for anyone who remains unvaccinated to come forward and to use the walk-in vaccination clinics which open on Monday, July 19.
The clinics will be open for all Maltese residents and those who do not have an ID card can produce other documents to prove their residence. The clinics will be opened in Malta and Gozo and a list of locations will be issued shortly. 

Questioned on the situation in schools, Gauci said the plan was to start the school year with as many vaccinated adolescents as possible. She said the situation was being closely coordinated with the education authorities, with whom there was good collaboration. 

When a reader complained about restrictions on mass events still being in place, despite a crowd having been seen at the Hamrun football celebration, Gauci said that the fact that something happened in the breach of regulations did not mean regulations should be lifted.

A lot of many people had made sacrifices and they want to stay safe, she said, appealing for everyone to be responsible.  

The programme was presented by Claire Farrugia.

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