Fourteen new COVID-19 cases were reported in Malta on Thursday, the sharpest increase in a month.

The number of new cases had been in single digits since April 21, when 12 cases were reported, and Thursday’s increase is the sharpest since 20 cases were reported on April 11. 

But superintendent for public health Charmaine Gauci cautioned against alarm: "The number today is higher than in the past few days but in considering whether to roll back measures, we do not look just at one spike. We once had a spike of 52 cases. We look at the average number that reflects on the R factor".  The so-called R factor is the rate of transmission.  

Gauci confirmed that health workers and patients at the Mater Dei Hospital ENT ward had been tested after a positive case and put in quarantine as a precaution. 

 

She said seven patients who tested positive in the past weeks have now  recovered so that the total number of recovered patients is now 443 total.

A total of 1,321 tests were carried out overnight.

The 14 new cases push the number of cases to 522 of which 73 remain active.

The new cases

  • A 58-year-old Maltese health care worker at St Vincent de Paul Home. He showed symptoms May 12. Contact tracing of patients and staff is underway;
  • A Sudanese man 23, who was in Karin Grech Hospital for rehabilitation and tested positive in random testing after showing no symptoms. Other patients in the ward are being tested;
  • A Maltese 84-year-old patient at Karin Grech Hospital who also showed no symptoms; 
  • A Maltese woman, 37, who displayed symptoms on May 13 and had contact with another healthcare worker who was positive;
  • A Maltese man, 28, who had symptoms on May 10. He had contact with a healthcare worker in Mater Dei in a ward under investigation. He was in quarantine and last worked on May 8;
  • A Maltese woman, health care worker, who displayed symptoms on May 10;
  • A Maltese man, 38, a healthcare worker, with symptoms on May 13;
  • An Italian man, 44, who went to the emergency ward and tested positive;
  • A Maltese man, 54, with symptoms on May 11;
  • A Maltese man, 33, who had no symptoms but wanted to do the test;
  • A Macedonian woman, 24, who showed symptoms on May 11;
  • A Maltese man, 27, who showed symptoms on May 5; 
  • A Maltese woman, 32, went to the Emergency department for other conditions, was tested positive;
  • A Maltese man, 31, also with no symptoms. He is in a vulnerable group and is being kept in hospital.

Two patients are now at Boffa hospitals, four at St Thomas hospital, one in the Infectious Diseases Unit and four at Karin Grech Hospital. 

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Concerns over healthcare workers

Asked whether it was a concern that healthcare workers were contracting the virus with some frequency, Gauci said that healthcare workers are also in the community and the risk of them contracting the virus from the community is similar to anyone else. They are, however, tested more than anyone else. 

She said Malta has a rate of infection for healthcare workers similar to other countries and that positive cases of healthcare workers are being found not only through the onset of symptoms but through random testing.

Supermarket hours for the elderly

Asked whether supermarkets should consider having special opening hours for over 65s only, Gauci said the chances of having so many people out at a certain time could increase the chances of infection and it was better to spread opening hours as much as possible and avoid queues of people.

She encouraged people classified as vulnerable to continue to make use of schemes and services that deliver groceries and avoid leaving their home at all costs.

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