A legal notice ordering people who are vulnerable to coronavirus to stay at home will be lifted on Wednesday, allowing them to return to normality for the first time in months. 

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci made the announcement during her news conference, days after Health Minister Chris Fearne said the island had "won the war" against COVID-19.

Two new cases were recorded from 1030 tests on Tuesday. The rate of infection is now below 0.5, meaning each infected person passes it on to less than one other. 

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There are now 51 active cases, after 562 recoveries and nine deaths. Eight people recovered from the virus on Tuesday. 

In a change in format and a sign of a return to normality, Gauci delivered the news conference in person rather than via Zoom.

She said the number of cases is "stable". 

Gauci gave details of all those who have contracted the illness since her last update on Friday. 

The new cases

They include a family, who had returned to Malta from Pakistan, via Frankfurt on May 27. The first case, diagnosed on Friday was a man, who experienced symptoms the next day.  

His relatives, a mother and daughter, who had arrived to Malta before him, later also tested positive.  They are a 32-year-old woman who had a fever on May 31 and her one-year-old daughter, who had a cough on June 1. 

A 77-year-old British man, who was a patient in Karin Grech hospital, was also diagnosed after developing a fever on May 29. Contact tracing is being carried out.

Another recent case is a 23-year-old Maltese woman, who had fever and a sore throat on May 31. 

A 26-year-old Indian woman, who was asymptomatic and part of a cluster of patients, who lived together and worked as carers at Karin Grech Hospital, was also diagnosed. 

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Vulnerable allowed out

Gauci said the situation had remained stable despite Malta going through "two phases of relaxation of measures". Non-essential shops re-opened at the beginning of May and by the end of the month all restaurants and hairdressers were allowed to see clients again. 

Most of the remaining measures will be lifted on Friday. 

"As we relax more measures on Friday, we want to keep following the basic principles: social distance, hygiene and wearing of masks or visors," she said. 

Masks are not needed for patrons of nightclubs, restaurants and bars, she added, but waiters and bar staff will continue to wear them. 

Child care centres would have less children to ensure social distancing but they will be grouped together, so they are like a family unit, she said. 

She said that vulnerable people - the over 65s, pregnant and those with a list of specific conditions - can "now go out".

"Today, a legal notice on this will be published," she said. "That is why they will be able to go to work."

Maximum of 75 people in one place 

New guidelines on how to prevent the spread at the office have also been published.

Largescale events remain banned with a maximum of 75 people allowed in one place.

Last week, Gauci had expressed her shock and worry after a mass gathering at Floriana as football fans celebrated the club's Premier League win. 

Of those who were tested, none had contracted the virus, she said. 

"This is something positive because you can see what is happening with transmission," she said.

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