[WATCH] Coronavirus: Eight new cases, including three-year-old, test positive overnight

Total cases now stands at 38 • New case includes three-year-old, who is doing fine • Another new case involves a British woman who was a patient at Mater Dei Hospital since 5 March and developed symptoms • One 52-year-old man may have contracted virus from a gym

Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci
Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci

Malta has registered eight new cases of coronavirus, including a three-year-old boy, whose parents had already tested positive, the health authorities said.

The total number of cases so far has risen to 38 as Malta started recording its first local transmissions on Monday. Four of the new cases announced on Tuesday were local transmissions.

One of the patients diagnosed overnight was a British woman who was a patient at Mater Dei Hospital. Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said the ward where the woman was has been sealed for the time being and another patient who was in the same room and healthcare workers who came in touch with her have been quarantined.

Gauci said the source of infection for one of the cases of local transmission involving a 52-year-old Maltese man, still had to be identified. However, it is possible that he may have contracted the infection from someone at the gym.

All patients so far are in good condition.

Government yesterday announced more restrictive measures to help curb the disease, including the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms, każini and other establishments, and an increase to €3,000 of the fine for breaching mandatory quarantine.

The new cases

A three-year-old Maltese boy, who had been in contact with another person who had been confirmed Covid-19 positive tested positive for the virus.

The boy developed his first symptom, a fever, on 15 March. He did not attend school since then, since the schools’ closure had already been in effect. Gauci said he is currently in a very good state of health.

The father and son of an Italian family which live in Malta have tested positive. The father had travelled to Rome alone between 1-5 March. His wife had already tested positive. The 58-year-old father and 15-year-old have now also been confirmed to have the virus. Gauci said the family had gone straight into quarantine when the father had returned to Malta from Rome.

A 59-year-old British woman living in Malta, and who did not travel abroad, has tested positive. The woman had been admitted to Mater Dei Hospital on 5 March due to a bone fracture.

On 13 March, while in hospital, she developed respiratory symptoms. She was tested for Covid-19 and resulted positive yesterday. “We immediately started an investigation together with Mater Dei’s infection control unit to contain the situation and to find out where she contracted the virus,” Gauci said.

The patient was immediately transferred to the infectious diseases unit, as was the person in the same two-bed hospital room as her. The person who was in the same room as her has tested negative for the virus. The hospital hall the woman was in has been closed, and the staff who were in contact with her were quarantined immediately.

Gauci said that while the woman had been admitted to hospital on 5 March, there is also the possibility that she could have contracted the virus from within the community before she went to Mater Dei. Another possibility is that she contracted it from the “minor contact” she had with a health worker who has since been confirmed positive for Covid-19.

Gauci said the contact with the said healthcare worker had been very brief - less than the 15 minutes of face to face contact, which the European Centre for Disease Control says is necessary for transmission.

“We are still investigating where she contracted the virus,” Gauci said, as she described the woman’s health situation as “very good.”

A 26-year-old Maltese woman who travelled to the UK and returned to Malta on 13 March has tested positive. The woman went straight into quarantine on her return, and developed symptoms on 14 March. She was swabbed and confirmed to be infected with Covid-19. Contact tracing of people who were on the same flight as her back to Malta is being undertaken.

Moreover, a 62-year-old Maltese man who was also in the UK and returned to Malta on the same 13 March flight as the 26-year-old woman has also tested positive. He first developed symptoms on 15 March, and was already in quarantine at the time.

A 28-year-old Maltese man who was not abroad, but works at a place where other employees had travelled abroad, has tested positive. One of the employees had travelled to Sicily, but had no coronavirus symptoms.

Gauci said it is suspected that the man who travelled to Sicily might have had minor symptoms, and that the Maltese man could have contracted Covid-19 from him. The 28-year-old first developed symptoms on 15 March - which was a Sunday - and was therefore not at work at the time, nor did he go to work subsequently.

The last new case concerns a 52-year-old Maltese man who didn’t travel abroad and had no contact with any known Covid-19 cases or with people who travelled abroad and had symptoms. The man developed a fever and cough on 11 March, and subsequently tested positive for the virus. Contact tracing of the man, who works at a private company, is ongoing.

Gauci said the health authorities had discussed with the man his whereabouts, and it resulted that he had attended a gym. “He might have contracted it there,” Gauci said.

Gauci said that the health authorities had started carrying out swab tests with increased frequency, which results in more cases being detected. To date, 939 swabs on people who were abroad or who were suspected as having possibly contracted the virus have been carried out.

Moreover, 701 swabs have been carried out on people admitted to Mater Dei following respiratory screening - all these have tested negative, except the 59-year-old British woman.

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