An increasing number of elderly people are being treated for COVID-19, Charmaine Gauci has confirmed as she gave details about an outbreak in three residential facilities.
Some 32 cases are in St Joseph's home in Fgura, 13 are in Casa Antonia nursing home in Balzan and two are in Casa San Paolo in Buġibba. Most are residents but some are also staff members.
A further four patients, aged over 80 years old are being treated in the infectious diseases unit at Mater Dei hospital, with three described as not being in a stable condition.
"Previously, the demographic was young people, but now older people are being affected," Gauci said.
She was delivering her weekly update on the COVID-19 pandemic, a day after Malta recorded its 15th death.
The superintendent of public health began by announcing 43 new cases of COVID-19 and 30 recoveries.
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Gauci said authorities are working with staff and residents of the care homes to quarantine and mitigate.
"We are taking all the measures to protect our vulnerable people," she said. Each facility has an infection control expert but authorities are also helping those with cases to manage the situation and to prevent an outbreak in other homes.
Nationalist party leader Adrian Delia said it was "concerning" and that the health of the elderly and vulnerable must be prioritised.
He said: "Robert Abela assumes that COVID-19 is under control. He continues to show lack of foresight on people's problems."
Clusters of cases
Gauci said authorities had identified more than a dozen clusters - defined as two or more confirmed cases among individuals associated with a particular setting.
The largest clusters are families, gatherings and migrant centres. The others are a hotel party, Santa Venera festa, Mount Carmel hospital, Paceville night clubs, Marsa road workers, language schools, factories, summer schools and the work place.
Ten new cases were also associated with a bodybuilding competition, she said.
Most patients continue to recover at home, with just one patient in the intensive care in Mater Dei. Eight are being treated in the Infectious Diseases Unit, eight in Boffa hospital and 15 in St Thomas hospital.
Gauci said that Malta is seeing a similar trend to the rest of Europe, with a slight increase of cases in the past few days.
Gauci said that six people have tested positive for the virus during airport testing - all of whom had arrived from Spain.
From Saturday, arrivals from Paris and Marseille, in France, will be asked to present a certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 test or potentially be subjected to random testing.
Cases involving migrants are not being recorded in Malta's figures because they are being kept in quarantine and so are not mixing with the community.
She said that most of the migrants who have coronavirus have shown no symptoms. There are 35 being quarantined at Lyster Barracks; one in Mount Carmel; one in Boffa Hospital; 37 in Marsa and one in Safi detention centre.
Correction September 11: A previous version of this article stated that St Joseph's home is in Sta Venera.