[WATCH] Coronavirus: 52 new cases, including resident at old people’s home

Malta has 293 cases of coronavirus • New cases have no link to Hal Far open centre • Chris Fearne says spike was expected • 825 tests conducted overnight

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne

Covid-19 - Press Briefing with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne and Prof Charmaine Gauci

Posted by Covid19 Malta on Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Malta registered 52 new cases of Covid-19 overnight and none so far are linked to the Hal Far migrant open centre, which is on lockdown.

The surge brings the total of cases registered since the start of the pandemic to 293, with Health Minister Chris Fearne insisting this sudden increase was to be expected.

One of the new cases concerns an elderly person resident at an old people’s home, who has now been isolated. Patients who were in the same ward and staff members who may have come in contact with have been placed in quarantine.

Follow Fearne's statement in English in the video below:

Health Minister Chris Fearne's statement in English on latest cases

No further details on this particular case were released by Fearne and Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci.

Overnight, 825 tests were carried out, bringing the total to more than 11,000 since the start of the pandemic in March.

The daily bulletin was brought forward by 90 minutes as speculation grew on a sudden surge in cases.

No new restrictive measures required

However, Fearne insisted the spike was within expectations and no new restrictive measures were needed at this stage if people continued to obey social distancing rules.

Fearne said that none of the 52 cases so far have been traced back to the Hal Far open centre, which was placed on lockdown last Sunday after eight residents registered positive.

“We are not surprised by the increase because it is according to our predictions. If anything, we were expecting this rise to have happened last week,” Fearne said.

Fearne urges discipline

However, he reiterated his appeal for people to exercise discipline, responsibility and remain focussed.

“The numbers are still within the curve that we were predicting and if it remains so we will be able to cope. But this does not mean we should relax. It is our responsibility to stay healthy and safe and to keep others safe,” Fearne cautioned.

He urged employers to adopt telework as much as possible and asked people to remain at home unless it was necessary for them to go out.

Asked whether the new cases were linked to possible outbreaks in particular factories and workplaces, Gauci said there were no major work-related outbreaks so far.

“We are carrying out contact tracing but it would be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of contagion unless the circumstances are clear enough,” Gauci said.

Hal Far open centre

The health authorities are expecting the number of Covid-19 cases to continue increasing, including those at the Hal Far open centre.

Fearne said that vulnerable migrants have been shifted out of the open centre and people there will be afforded medical treatment like anybody else.

“We have engaged people to translate recommendations being made by the health authorities because the majority of residents know neither Maltese nor English,” he said.

ITU beds

Fearne said the capacity of intensive therapy beds at Mater Dei Hospital stood at 125, including ventilators and medical staff to go with them. The number will increase to 200, shortly. The ITU beds in Gozo have increased to 20.

Fearne said these beds should be sufficient if Malta sticks to the predicted curve.

Quick fact box:

  • 293 cases so far
  • 52 new cases
  • 4 of the cases in Gozo
  • 4 people are at ITU, one is on a ventilator
  • 5 have fully recovered

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