Coronavirus: no cases recorded yet in Malta

The Maltese health authorities say that frontline responders at Mater Dei Hospital are well-equipped to deal with coronavirus patients and training will now extend to healthcare workers in other wards

No coronavirus cases have been recorded so far in Malta as 22 suspect cases resulted negative, the public health authorities in Malta have said.

Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci briefed the media on the actions being taken by healthcare professionals to monitor the situation and tackle any possible cases of COVID-19.

Gauci said that testing of suspect cases has increased in view of the outbreak in nearby Italy but none so far have resulted positive.

She appealed to the public to get information from reliable sources and not depend on social media.

Mater Dei Hospital CEO Celia Falzon said the hospital was well-prepared to deal with any cases that may crop up and preparations were underway to widen the training to staff members in all wards in the eventuality of an outbreak.

"We are prepared for the containment phase whereby we have the facilities and plans to isolate patients and treat them. All our first responders and staff in the infectious diseases unit and intensive therapy unit are trained. We will start training of other nurses and doctors to prepare for the post-containment phase if an outbreak results," Falzon said.

Asked about the claims made by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses that the hospital was unprepared for an outbreak, Falzon said the authorities were focussed on containing the spread of the virus if positive cases do result.

"We are working according to a plan based on risk assessment. The first people who were trained were those in the emergency department, the infectious diseases unit and the intensive therapy unit. We will now upscale our preparedeness in terms of training and beds to prepare for an outbreak but our aim is to try and contain the disease," Falzon said.

The hospital could upscale its bed capacity like it does during the seasonal influenza peak, she added.

Self-quarantine

Charmaine Gauci said the advice for people who travelled to hotspot areas to self-quarantine applied to the traveller only. "If the person comes back with no symptoms, it is just the individual who should self-quarantine and not the rest of the family. The disease becomes contagious at the sign of the first symptoms," Gauci said.

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