A total of 52 new cases of patients tested positive for coronavirus in Malta in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Chris Fearne.
“The reason we called this press conference earlier today is that this is the highest spike of new cases of the infectious COVID-19 in Malta,” Fearne said during a press conference with Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci.
Four of these new cases are Gozitan, the remaining cases are Maltese, a Pakistani and Somali national. Fearne stressed that none of these cases was related to residents at the Hal Far Open Centre, although he did not exclude these numbers would increase.
“The number hasn’t taken us by surprise,” Fearne said. “We were expecting these figures a few days ago.” The total number of confirmed infected cases in Malta is 293.
Up until Monday, the total number of cases of coronavirus in Malta was 241 after 14 people tested positive since Sunday. These cases, which were all spread through local transmission, also include eight migrants who reside at the Hal Far open centre.
Based on this information, the government took the controversial decision to quarantine the open centre for two weeks and closed it on Sunday. A heavy presence of the Armed Forces of Malta and the police have been there since.
Fearne pointed out that people in the open centre would receive the same medical care. “One of the problems, in the beginning, was that the residents don’t necessarily understand the language so in the past days we have been passing on information in their languages so that they can understand measures but, if they need medical support, they will get it.”
He said the curve was progressing as expected. “These 52 cases are isolated and we are undertaking the effort to contact people they had been in contact with for them to go into quarantine.”
There is also one person in an old people’s home who tested positive for the virus. The health authorities were working on contact tracing the people who were in contact, Gauci said. Even though there were a number of vulnerable people who lived together, a number of measures taken by the old people’s home had already prevented the spread.
“It is important that we maintain our discipline. The success of this depends on all of us,” the Health Minister said who advised the public to follow the instructions of the Superintendent of Public Health.
“We have made this appeal from day one. Stay home unless absolutely necessary,” Fearne said, despite the Prime Minister’s statements undermining the advice of health professionals.
He insisted that there were no conflicting messages from the authorities. “The instructions are clear”.
When asked about the claims made by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi on trading in influence for the pre-fabricated hospital, Fearne glossed over by saying it was only an allegation by the Opposition despite suppliers speaking out to The Shift about the contract being predetermined.
New helpline 1770 was launched for those who are feeling depressed as a result of being confined indoors.