Health authorities confirmed 19 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, the largest daily tally since the outbreak of the disease.

It brings Malta's total to 129, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci announced during her daily update on the COVID-19 situation.

Despite the growing figures, she said that some of the most vulnerable people are ignoring advice from the authorities to stay at home.

"Some squares are still full of elderly people meeting up with others their age", she said. "This means they are at risk of getting the virus."

The 19 new cases were confirmed from 488 tests carried out. Eight of the new cases were contracted abroad, four were found through contact tracing, and seven were local transmissions. Authorities could not establish where these patients contracted COVID-19.

Most of the cases in Malta are people with mild symptoms. However a 61-year-old, who also has pneumonia remains in the Intensive Therapy Unit at Mater Dei, where his condition is stable. 

Gauci repeated the appeal for the public to follow coronavirus containment measures including avoiding leaving home unless necessary. 

Malta has one of the highest testing rates per capita in Europe, with a total of 3,819 tests carried out so far. The authorities are looking at investing in different tests but said they needed to be reliable. "We want to abide by the World Health Organisation regulations".

And Gauci revealed that the authorities are looking in to serology, which identifies the antibodies a patient has produced to fight the virus.

Referring to a case that had involved a bus driver testing positive, she said that authorities were monitoring the situation and were working with Transport Malta.

Asked about an offer from the owner of St Philip's, to use the private hospital to treat coronavirus patients, she said the news conference was not the place to discuss such offers. 

The new cases

The 19 new cases ranged in age from 23 to 81. 

Cases one, two, three and four had been in the UK. They are a two Maltese women, aged 47 and 23 and a father and son aged 54 and 22.

Case five is a 40-year-old Spanish woman, who travelled to Spain recently while cases six and seven are two men, who had recently travelled to Austria and are aged 52 and 19. 

Case eight is a 56-year-old Maltese woman, who had recently travelled to Poland.

Case nine is a 21-year-old Maltese man, linked to two other confirmed cases, while case 10 is a 58-year-old man, related to a healthcare worker with the virus. 

Case 11 is a 36-year-old Maltese man, who was in contact with a person at the gym.

Case 12 is a 52-year-old Maltese woman, who was related to a coronavirus patient. 

Case 13 is a 27-year-old Maltese man; case 14 is a 38-year-old Italian man; case 15 is a 24-year-old female Maltese healthcare worker; case 16 is a 23-year-old Chinese healthcare worker.

Case 17 is an 81-year-old Maltese man, the eldest patient so far to have the illness. He is being treated at the Infectious Diseases Unit, but, like the others, is in a stable condition. 

Case 18 is a 47-year-old Maltese man, while case 19 is a 60-year-old Maltese woman. 


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