Life seems to be going on as normal in Malta despite a pandemic but in reality the numbers tell a different story as the daily average cases of COVID-19 are slightly above the numbers in the country during the first peak in March and April when restrictions were imposed.
Double-digit figures of COVID-19 cases are now being announced every day – 4 August marked the sixth consecutive day that health authorities registered daily double-digit figures. During most of last week, there were between 10 to 21 cases reported every day.
A comparison undertaken by The Shift shows that the average number of daily reported cases is on the rise, even when compared to the period when Malta was believed to have reached a peak in new cases.
The number of cases reported between 17 March and 1 May, when Malta was under restrictive measures, stood at an average of some 9.6 new cases daily. This includes 7 April and 9 April, when 52 and 38 cases were reported.
Now, since 26 July, when a pool party launched a spike in cases, the average daily number of new cases has doubled, with an average of some 18 cases per day.
A comparison of the number of active COVID-19 cases on 24 July, which stood at 12, and increased to 171 cases the following Friday, occurred in a period of just one week.
Even comparing the cases reported in the last 10 days with the same number of days at the peak of cases in April shows today’s average is still slightly higher.
The average number of cases during a 10-day peak in April stood at 18.2 cases per day, while the daily average for the past 10 days is 18.5.
Graph showing the number of daily cases between 26 July and 4 August:
Malta had seen very low numbers, normally not exceeding five cases per day. For a seven day stretch, until 16 July, the health authorities actually contained the virus, with zero cases reported.
The spike in cases on 26 July caught everyone by surprise, as the numbers kept rising.
Other European countries have recently re-established mandatory 14-day quarantines. Additionally, Germany announced it will be carrying out swab tests on every person entering the country.
Meanwhile, due to the rise in numbers, Latvia is advising travellers not to visit Malta.
Prime Minister Robert Abela recently appeared on the Labour Party television station where he blamed the recent increase in cases on migrants who arrived on the island but were immediately contained. Of the 215 active cases, 88 include migrants.
Abela’s stand on migrants infected is not supported by information being published by the health authorities which identified a number of clusters that led to an increase in the number of cases.
There was the Hotel Take Over pool party, which seemed to start the wave. Other small weekend parties in Paceville and elsewhere were also mentioned as clusters for infection, as well as the Santa Venera feast.
The first case of COVID-19 hit Malta on 1 March. The government announced initial restrictive measures later that month and imposed a travel ban on 21 March. On 1 May the government announced the first lifting of measures and on 1 July the Malta International Airport was again welcoming commercial flights. A fireworks display was organised to mark the occasion as the Prime Minister told the nation ‘the war had been won’.
Following mounting pressure from health professionals, and upon revelations that a number of mass events were scheduled for the summer to attract tourists to the island, some of which were sponsored by the Malta Tourism Authority, the government announced a restriction on mass gatherings as doctors, nurses and pharmacists threatened to strike.
On Wednesday, the Medical Association of Malta (MAM) announced that industrial action will be taken as of Thursday in reaction to how the government is currently handling the pandemic, specifically after mass events were not cancelled. The association has blamed mass events for the spike in cases
Meanwhile, as health authorities ask the public to ensure extra care and vigilance, the President of Malta went ahead with the August Moon Ball that disregarded social distancing measures advised.
As of 4 August, the number of active Covid-19 cases stands at 216. Nine people have lost their lives to the virus in Malta.
*The numbers in the article are extracted from the DOI official page.