Just one new case of coronavirus has been registered in Malta in the last 24 hours as the country eases restrictions.

The figure was released ahead of an update by superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci. 

It comes as restaurants and hairdressers reopen on Friday after more than two months.

On Thursday Gauci dismissed rumours that she was to resign from her position amid reports of tensions between the Office of the Prime Minister and health authorities about the pace of Malta's coronavirus exit strategy. 

Watch the news conference live

The single case shows a striking reduction in numbers from recent weeks and came after 1,560 tests were carried out. 

There are 125 active cases of coronavirus in Malta after 469 people recovered and six people died. 

Gauci has reduced her once-daily news conference to three times a week and so she began by giving details of all 16 new cases recorded over the last two days. 

They include healthcare workers, five elderly people and two people in Gozo:

  • A 85-year-old woman, who suffered a cough and shortness of breath;
  • A 70-year-old Maltese woman;
  • A 56-year-old Maltese woman;
  • A 27-year-old Maltese woman living in Gozo;
  • A 23-year-old Maltese man, who works in Gozo;
  • A 59-year-old man and 38-year-old man who were in contact with a previous case;
  • A 45-year-old man who works at Mater Dei but is not a healthcare worker;
  • A 72-year-old man who had fever after coming into contact with another patient at Karin Grech;
  • A 69-year-old Maltese woman who is a relative of another positive case and was already in quarantine;
  • A 33-year-old Filipino man who works as a carer at an old people's home and had been in contact with a woman who was positive;
  • A 32-year-old Indian carer at Karin Grech;
  • A 71-year-old woman, who was tested before her procedure at Mater Dei
  • A 56-year-old man;
  • A 59-year-old French man, who owns a retail outlet but wore a mask and had no exposure to clients;
  • A 55-year-old Filipino woman who is a carer at Karin Grech hospital
  • Today, we entered the new phase and so we continue with our testing.

Malta has one of the highest testing rates in the world and Gauci said the number of tests would continue to increase, describing this commitment as "one of the pillars" of the containment strategy. 

"It is important to test more so that we can monitor in order to be able to keep the situation under control," she said. 

She said that the number of cases in relation to the number of tests being carried out has lowered but she warned people to remain alert.

"All of us know that the virus is still in the community and that is why we cannot go back to the normal."

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Gauci referred to some of the measures that have been lifted, including allowing hairdressers to reopen. She said that authorities have advised hairdressers against the use of hair dryers, because the information is not clear on their impact on the spread of COVID-19, but that each salon operator was free to make their own decision. 

On restaurants, which also reopened today, she said environmental health officers have been dispatched to ensure food safety and that protocols are being followed.

Elderly people are still being asked to stay at home, she said. 

 

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