More than 100 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in Malta as a further 17 cases were confirmed overnight. 

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci announced the new cases in her daily briefing.

She said that on Sunday, authorities carried out 304 tests and 17 people tested positive.

Ten of the new patients had travelled abroad recently or had come in contact with someone who had, while the remainder contracted the virus in the community. 

The new cases bring Malta's total to 107, including two patients who have recovered. So far, 3,099 tests have been carried out.

Gauci said: "This is a number we have expected. The aim is to control it as it continues to increase.

"What's important is that we are managing it by tracing cases, and in fact most cases are clusters, meaning we traced them ourselves. Index cases, ie those that turn up on their own, are low."

All patients stable

All the patients are stable, including a 61-year-old patient with bilateral pneumonia - the only patient so far to be diagnosed with complications.

Most patients have mild symptoms and are being treated through pain relief medication like paracetamol with some of the patients being treated at home, after authorities assess their cooperation and home environment. 

She said the cases are spread across Malta. Around a fifth of the total cases are local transmission, while the rest contracted the illness while abroad or from someone who had travelled recently.

Asked about when the virus would reach its peak, Gauci said it was "still too early to know". 

"We will only know once cases start to drop."

Social distancing 'imperative'

She stressed that social distancing measures remained "imperative", especially for the elderly, who are among the most at risk from COVID-19.

Health should be a priority, she said, as she urged employers, local councils and churches to take up teleworking for their staff. 

For those who can't work remotely, such as those in factories, staff were advised not to go in if ill, to take breaks separately and to leave and enter individually. 

She also said that authorities are working with supermarkets to lower the numbers of customers inside at the same time. "However if you pass by a person who is ill at a supermarket, you wont get coronavirus," she said. 

The 17 new cases are:

Case 1: A 61-year-old Maltese woman, who didn't travel abroad but is related to cluster of people who did.

Case 2: A 19-year-old Maltese man, who travelled to virus-hit northern Italy in the beginning of March, and had symptoms on March 19.

Case 3: A 56-year-old Maltese woman, who returned from the UK on March 20 and immediately showed symptoms.

Case 4: A 56-year-old English man, who arrived from the UK on March 20 and had symptoms during the flight. Contract tracing is being carried out on those on the flight. 

Case 5 and 6: A 23-year-old Maltese woman and a 30-year-old Italian man, who travelled to Madrid. The couple had symptoms on March 15.

Case 7: A 28-year-old Maltese man who lived in the UK, and returned to Malta when flights were going to be suspended.

Case 8: A 60-year-old Irish woman. 

Case 9: A 56-year-old Maltese man who didn't go abroad, but was in touch with people at work who were abroad.

Case 10: A 40-year-old man, who had symptoms on March 16, and had been in touch with two relatives who had confirmed positive.

Case 11: A 32-year-old Maltese woman, who works as a healthcare worker.

Case 12: A 34-year-old Maltese man, who had symptoms on March 16, including shortness of breath. Contract tracing is being carried out on his colleagues and relatives.

Case 13: A 38-year-old Ukrainian woman who had symptoms on March 22.

Case 14: A 52 year old woman. Contact tracing is being carried out at her work and among her relatives.

Case 15, 16, and 17: A 14-year-old girl and a man and a woman, who are related to her. 

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