Eight people have tested positive for coronavirus overnight, taking the total number of cases to 458. 

However, 17 more people have recovered, meaning that double the number of people have recovered from the illness (303) than currently have it (151).

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci delivered the latest on Malta's fight to contain the virus.

Watch the update in Maltese and English:

She said the new cases followed 1,072 tests - an increased number than have been carried out in recent days. Since the outbreak first hit Malta in early March, there have been 30,000 swabs taken. 

Of the new cases, five were from the Ħal Far open centre for migrants and refugees, which is currently under lockdown and has had 48 positive cases. The aim is to test all the residents there. 

The other three cases include a healthcare worker. The worker had not reported for duty since the symptoms emerged, so contact tracing is limited to family members. 

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Gauci said authorities are frequently seeing people postponing coming for tests as they are putting symptoms down to seasonal allergies. She appealed to all those who see any variation in the intensity of these ‘normal’ symptoms to contact the authorities. 

And she again appealed to people not to drop their guard due to the low number of cases over the past days. She said they had been kept low thanks to the measures put in place by the authorities, which were largely being obeyed by the public.

Gauci said we could not afford a spike in cases that would once again "take us back to square one". She reminded the public that while for many the COVID-19 symptoms had been mild, others had to be hospitalised and four people died.

'Transition strategy'

Gauci said authorities were still working on a "transition strategy" to decide what measures could be lifted as the number of cases drops. 

"We can speak about an exit strategy once a vaccine is in place. We cannot go back to normal immediately, certain social distancing measures have to be kept in place," she said.

The aim is to keep the transmission rate below 1, she said.

"As long as the virus remains present and there is no vaccine, certain social distancing measures have to be kept in place. By doing so, the second wave can be controlled too."

She said other countries are maintaining social distancing measures, as this is the basic step that can be taken to stop the virus spread. On the situation with schools, which are closed until September, Gauci was non-committal about when they would be reopened.

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