Five new COVID-19 cases were reported overnight from 1,207 tests, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said on Wednesday.

The additional cases mean that Malta has 463 confirmed cases of the virus. 

Case details 

Gauci said the first case was a Filipino man, 41. He had a headache and loss of sense of smell. He works in construction and contact tracing is in hand.

The second case is a man, 33, from Sudan. He first had symptoms on April 13.

Case three is a Maltese man, 49, who first reported symptoms two days ago.He works at a home for the elderly though he was not in contact with patients or carers.

The fourth case was a Maltese woman, 27, who was asymptomatic but was screened before having surgery.

The last case was a Maltese woman, 52. She was screened through the enhanced screening programme because she works at Mater Dei Hospital.

She is not a healthcare worker and was only in contact with a few colleagues.

Gauci also reported 36 recoveries including two aged under nine years, three aged between  10-19, six between 20-29, 12 between 30-39, six between 40-49, two between 50-59, two between 60-69 and three between 70-79 years.

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The situation at Ħal Far

On the Ħal Far migrants' centre, which is under lockdown, Gauci said a group has had quarantine extended because of new cases reported on Tuesday. That quarantine period had been due to end on Thursday.

Another group will emerge from quarantine on Wednesday.

Tests there continued. There were 96 tests overnight and none came back positive.

So far, there have been 601 tests at Ħal Far of which 48 were positive. Seven of these positives have recovered and they will be released from quarantine.

Those who tested negative have been kept away from the others. A group of 46 were not in contact with the others and so they no longer need to remain under quarantine. 

Social distancing remains a must

Gauci stressed that social distancing needs to be maintained if the virus numbers were to be kept low.

She said that one patient remained in intensive care but the number of cases at Mater Dei is going down.

On opening the airport, Gauci said the authorities were working on a transition strategy. Abroad, she said, there were still countries that had much higher numbers of cases.

"We need to monitor the situation and make sure to look at the impact of removing any measures," she said.

On the contact tracing app being introduced voluntarily in some countries, Gauci said the authorities have a team that is working together with people from the EU, ECDC and other experts.

"We are evaluating the best way forward. The app is something voluntary and does not impinge on people's privacy," she stressed.

Hairdressers working at clients' homes

Asked if it was legal for hairdressers to work in clients' homes, Gauci said the legal notice stipulated that non-essential establishments had to close.

While the legal notice did not include a provision on working in homes, when people did that they would be putting themselves and their clients at risk because this went against social distancing requirements. 

"We need to keep in mind that people are put at risk when you have people coming and going. Such visits go against everything we have been working hard for," she said.

Replying to other questions, Gauci said there are no active cases in Gozo as those infected have now recovered.

She warned however that according to studies, it did not appear that former patients had built enough immunity to resist being infected once more. That was why the World Health Organisation had come out against so-called immunity passports as these could be putting others at risk. Studies were continuing. 

On the UK's claim there is a link with a new disease impacting children, Gauci said that the condition, Kawasaki Disease, is very rare. Malta had one case, and the patient tested negative for COVID-19.

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