[WATCH] Coronavirus: Six new cases, including one-month-old baby

Total cases so far stands at 299 • New cases include one-month-old baby who contracted Covid-19 at hospital • People without symptoms have registered positive • Charmaine Gauci insists social distancing remains best prevention

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci
Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci

A one-month-old baby was one of six new cases of Covid-19 registered in Malta overnight, Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said.

The baby developed symptoms while at hospital and subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. The child has now been placed in isolation and tests are being carried out on his parents and medical staff that may have come in contact with him.

Gauci said contact tracing was underway and there did not appear to be a risk for other babies in the same hospital ward as the child.

The total number of cases of Covid-19 has now risen to 299, including five that have fully recovered.

Overnight, a record 993 tests were carried out. One of the new cases is a 56-year-old healthcare worker, who had no contact with patients.

She confirmed that there was another case involving a supermarket worker that was unrelated to the Safi Lidl incident. However, she said the individual worked in the stores and did not have contact with clients. A risk assessment was done and the areas where the man operated were disinfected. She did not indicate the name of the supermarket.

Gauci added that in every workplace where a person registers positive, a risk assessment is carried out to determine who may have come in touch with the person and where they would have been. 

Positive with no symptoms

Gauci said routine testing of patients who were to undergo an operation have uncovered more cases of people who register positive without showing symptoms. This was worrying from a public health perspective, she added.

"It worries us because we may have people out there who have the virus but are unaware that they can transmit it to others. This is why the recommendations for social and physical distancing are important because no one can tell whether a person is positive," Gauci insisted.

She urged caution on the low number of new cases that came on the back of 52 cases recorded on Tuesday, the highest number of new cases so far.

"We are still at the start of the curve and we expect it to get worse... if everybody obeys the recommendations to stay inside as much as possible and maintain social distancing we will be able to reduce the rate of spread," she said, urging people to cooperate.

Gauci would not say when the health authorities were expecting the peak to hit as indicated by their modelling exercise, insisting the aim was to keep the transmition rate as low as possible. "Modelling helps us in planning but it greatly depends on whether people obey recommendations," she noted.

Gauci reiterated her appeal to people who undergo swabbing tests to remain at home until they receive the result. "Do not go to work. Stay at home and wait for the result. If you had symptoms and the Covid-19 test is negative, still don't go to work for another 24 hours to reduce the risk of spreading other diseases like normal influenza," she appealed.

She also called on people who have symptoms other than those related to Covid-19 not to stay away from hospital. "If someone is feeling chestpains, that person should not stay away from hospital because it may be made worse if the incidence is a heart attack or heart condition," she said.