A quarter of Malta’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents in homes for the elderly, Charmaine Gauci has revealed. 

The Superintendent of Public Health said seven of the 29 people to die with the virus were in the facilities.

Three were from San Ġużepp residential home in Fgura, where almost half the residents have tested positive, two were from Simblija care home in Naxxar, while a further two were from Casa Antonia in Balzan. 

Gauci said: “This is something we wanted to avoid. We managed to control the situation among the elderly in the first wave but this time around we had cases in homes.”

She gave her weekly briefing less than an hour after authorities announced another death: a 90-year-old man.

She said that a spike in numbers, especially among the vulnerable, leads to a spike in deaths and advised people who care for the elderly to be extra cautious when in the community. 

Malta’s death rate, which at 2.6 people per 100,000, is the third highest in the EU, needed to be reduced she said. 

“Every person who dies is precious to us,” she said. 

The average age of a COVID-19 patient has dropped from 50 last week to 45 this week, she said. 

Where are the COVID-19 patients being treated?

On Friday, 31 new cases were announced while 70 people recovered from the virus, bringing the number of patients with the virus to 639.

Gauci warned that a four people are being treated in Mater Dei’s intensive care unit and two are not stable.

Of the active cases, 37 are in hospital while the remainder are recovering at home.

She said that while the numbers have continued to increase, this was due to a particular cluster and that the number of cases linked to it had decreased in recent days. 

“The seven-day moving average shows numbers have gone down this week but we need to keep in mind our numbers fluctuate,” she said. “As we approach the flu season, we need to be even more cautious.“ 

Where are the cases from?

Cases of coronavirus linked to families gathering together remains the largest source of the increase, with 76 new cases in a week. 

There were 29 new cases linked to homes for the elderly, 21 linked to workplaces, 11 on other unspecified gatherings, 11 linked to the Paceville entertainment district. 

In Gozo, meanwhile, there are just 5 active cases.

One person this week tested positive after arriving from France – a country on Malta’s amber list, which requires passengers from particular countries to show they have tested negative or undergo a swab. 

So far there have been 12 cases detected from 609 airport tests since they began last month. 

Of the migrants who tested positive after being rescued at sea, six still have the virus. 

She said the number of cases linked to San Ġużepp elderly home in Fgura had reduced but revealed that two of Friday’s new cases were from the facility. 

Has anyone downloaded the COVID-19 app?

Almost 60,000 people have downloaded the COVID-19 contact-tracing app since it was launched last week, Gauci revealed.  

“We have already had six people who were positive and who had downloaded the app,” she said, encouraging more of the country’s population of almost 500,000 people to download it.

“People may not always recall who they met or for how long and so thanks to this app, we can keep track of even more contacts,” she said.

What about recovered patients who tested positive?

Gauci revealed that four COVID-19 cases had tested negative but had subsequently tested positive again for the virus. 

This can happen either because of a dormant virus, or if a person is re-infected, she explained.  

She said “We are evaluating these cases to better understand how to classify these cases. Even if a person has been declared as recovered, anyone with symptoms should call 111 immediately.”

Gauci called on people to wear masks in all public places. 

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