Five new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed overnight, bringing Malta's total to 134. 

Superintendent of Public Health, Charmaine Gauci, gave the update as part of her daily briefing on the COVID-19 situation.

It comes amid an urgent cabinet meeting that is discussing possible new measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Three of the five new cases are related to travelling, while the others were contracted locally. 

Gauci said that authorities had strengthened the testing capacity, with three centres now open to swab those who have been referred by doctors or the COVID-19 helpline. So far 4,230 people have been tested. 

Nobody has died from coronavirus in Malta and most of the patients have suffered mild symptoms, however a 61-year-old, who also has pneumonia and is still being treated at the Intensive Treatment Unit in Mater Dei. 

The majority of patients are being treated at home, with 14 in Mater Dei's infectious diseases unit and 18 in private hospitals. 

Just two people out of the 134 cases have recovered. 

The new cases

Case one: A 28-year-old Greek woman, who contracted the virus while in Cyprus. She returned to Malta on March 19 and had symptoms the following day. Her colleagues are being traced. 

Case two:  A 60-year-old Maltese man, who returned from the UK on March 13, and is one of a 'cluster' of three people. 

Case three: A 60-year-old Maltese health care worker, who had also been abroad and was admitted to hospital because of another condition. She had  initially tested negative. She was then tested again and found positive.

Case four: A 23-year-old man, who is part of another group of people who contracted the condition in the community. He suffered symptoms on March 20.

Case five: A 26-year-old Maltese woman, who experienced symptoms on March 20. She had been at work so contact tracing and risk assessment is ongoing. 

In the question and answer session of the briefing, Gauci was asked about claims that Italian merchants are not being quarantined. She said that the law applied to everyone and that anyone not in mandatory quarantine would be fined. 

Asked about the type of tests being carried out in Malta, Gauci said that rapid tests that show the immunity of a person are "not useful for us right now". 

She said that there were no cases of coronavirus in elderly homes.

Regarding the low numbers of people who have recovered, she said that recovery depended on the individual but that in order to record a recovery, the person must test negative twice. 

 

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