Thirty-two new coronavirus cases were identified between Thursday and Friday but more than double that number of patients – 65 – recovered, official statistics showed. 

The number of active cases declined to 624, an 11-day low.   

Health authorities conducted 2,109 swab tests over the previous 24 hours.  

Speaking during a press briefing, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said that three of Malta’s 624 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care. Those three patients are currently breathing with the help of a ventilator.  

A further five patients are receiving treatment at Mater Dei’s Infectious Diseases Unit, while 14 patients are at Boffa Hospital, 14 are at St Thomas Hospital and 22 are within Mount Carmel Hospital. 

The average local coronavirus patient is recovering from the virus after around 15 days, she said. 

Numbers stabilising

Gauci said the daily number of newly-detected cases appeared to be stabilising at around 30 to 40. The seven-day moving average of new cases appeared to be on a downward trend, she noted. 

“This is very important as it shows that the measures we implemented are working,” Gauci said.

She still urged vigilance, however.

“The numbers are going down, but we have to remain alert. If cases are decreasing it is because the public has been following restrictions we have implemented,” she said. 

Clusters

Gauci said that clusters of cases related to family members of infected patients amounted for the single largest cluster in recent weeks. Clusters of cases related to Paceville, workplaces, social gatherings, nursing homes and Mount Carmel were also significant.

A single nursing home had been linked to 24 cases, including one who is currently in intensive care.   

Just seven cases have been traced to restaurants, with none of those being detected this week. 

Key clusters: 

  • 143 cases linked to patients’ family members (60 this week)
  • 80 cases linked to Paceville (four this week)
  • 52 cases linked to patients’ workplaces (26 this week) 
  • 42 cases linked to social gatherings (19 this week)
  • 33 cases linked to Mount Carmel Hospital (five this week)

Rising average age of patients

The average age of local COVID-19 patients was relatively low when case numbers surged in July. But that appears to be changing now, Gauci noted. 

“We are seeing an increase in the number of older people getting the virus,” she said, noting that the average patient age was now at around 40.

She advised older people to be mindful of the places they visited. 

Office precautions

Gauci emphasised the importance of people taking the necessary precautions while at work, especially if they worked in office environments. Using masks in such cases was crucial, she said, especially when many people were likely to mingle together. 

“Avoid unnecessary contact with others and try to stick to the same people, even at the office,” she said. 

Seated events only

As of Friday, all social events permitted can only take place if they require patrons to be seated. This also applies to weddings. 

Gauci said the measure was intended to reduce the number of people intermingling while standing up, as this was a higher risk than when people remained seated. 

Airport testing and restrictions

Gauci noted that authorities had so far carried out 99 random swab tests of people arriving in Malta at the airport. Of those, three had tested positive. 

She reminded viewers that as of midnight, Tunisia and the Czech Republic would be added to Malta’s amber travel list – meaning travellers from these countries will have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours to enter Malta. 

Two migrants among a group which was brought to Malta last week have tested positive for the virus, Gauci said. 

‘Nobody has tested positive twice’ 

Answering a question, Gauci said that there were no cases in Malta of a person having been infected with the virus twice. Reports about such cases from overseas were still being studied, she said. 

Schools reopening 

Gauci indicated that schools would reopen come September, saying “we need schools and children to get an education”. 

She said it would be important to ensure proper guidelines to minimise transmission risks and also said that an EU-wide meeting with the World Health Organisation, scheduled for next week, would help inform authorities on how to manage the situation. 

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