Updated 2.08pm

Almost 90 new COVID-19 cases detected this week are of elderly residents at three care homes, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said on Friday. 

Gauci said that the 85 patients have been moved to a new facility in St Paul's Bay, named the Good Samaritan, which has been specially set up to care for care home residents who contract the virus. 

Giving her weekly briefing, Gauci said that a further 33 cases were of staff members at the three homes. 

Those who tested positive in these homes were 51 residents and 14 staff members at Dar Pinto, 21 residents and 15 staff members at Golden Care, and 13 residents and four staff members at Zammit Clapp.

As a result of the increase in cases at such homes, the average age of local COVID-19 patients has risen slightly, Gauci said, to 44 years. The most common age group over the past week was once again the 25-44 age group. 

Gauci's briefing comes amid a rising number of deaths in the country - with five reported in a single day this week - and a Europe-wide surge in coronavirus case numbers.

But while several countries, such as France, Germany, Ireland and England, have entered lockdown to stem the alarming spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Robert Abela has ruled out a similar move for Malta.

Malta registered 129 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. 

On clusters, Gauci said the family cluster continues to be the most common one. This is followed by the workplace cluster. 

“I once again appeal to employers to follow the standards we have suggested they should follow. We encourage people to promote remote work. Whenever possible, it’s very good that employers allow this,” Gauci said. 

“Again, I appeal to the elderly to be careful and follow the mitigation measures closely. They should avoid going to crowded places,” Gauci said. 

Numbers will continue to rise

Gauci said that it is predicted, not just in Malta but everywhere, that the numbers will continue to go up. This is what had happened with the Spanish Flu, she said. 

“The mitigation measures might seem like they are not working because of the number of new cases, but without these, the situation would be worse,” Gauci said as she urged the public to continue to wear masks and exercise social distancing. 

Christmas travel

The Superintendent of Health warned those who want to travel during the Christmas weeks to carefully assess the situation in the different countries and follow all mitigation measures. People should discuss the matter with their doctor if they are unsure what they should do, she said.

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