[WATCH] Six new cases of COVID-19, including three migrants at Hal Far open centre

6 new cases • 399 cases in total • Gauci insists Malta is still climbing the curve despite the low numbers

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci
Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci

Malta has so far registered 399 cases of coronavirus, with six new cases recorded overnight.

This is the fourth consecutive day of single-digit growth but Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci reiterated her appeal for people to remain indoors and obey social distancing because community spread is still a reality.

"We have to be sure that the numbers are giving us the true picture... we are still climbing the curve and the strategy remains to contain the spread, monitor and test," she said, adding this was not yet the time to relax any of the restrictive measures in place.

The health authorities have been testing profusely with the number of swabs since the pandemic appeared in Malta last month now hitting 20,139.

New cases

Three of the new cases were residents at the Hal Far open centre, which remains under quarantine. The men, aged 18, 19 and 26, tested positive after a series of random swabs were done. The open centre houses more than 1,000 people and the health authorities are working together with a Red Cross team that is on site.

Another case involved a 38-year-old female hotel worker in Gozo. Gauci said the woman worked as a clerk alongside one other person in the office. A risk assessment is being carried out and disinfection taking place.

Another case involved a 60-year-old male clerk who works at a government entity and a 21-year-old male student. In each case contact tracing is being carried out.

Gauci confirmed that one of the cases in previous days was a Freeport worker but a risk assessment found no need to place other co-workers in quarantine.

No relapse yet

Asked whether people who recovered from the virus have contracted the infection again, Gauci said none of the 44 recovered so far have relapsed. These people have been instructed to inform the health authorities immediately if they develop any symptoms.

Gauci reiterated that swabbing could not be used as a screening mechanism because it only gives a momentary picture. "Swabbing is carried out to immediately identify people who are sick but it is no replacement to social distancing and good personal hygiene," she insisted.

Pregnant women and their partners

Asked whether it made sense that partners of pregnant women were only being allowed to attend the last stage of birth, Gauci insisted the hospital took measures to reduce the number of people inside the facility.

She said having fewer people in hospital reduced the risk of introducing the virus in the facility. Pregnant women have complained that it made little sense to allow their partners at the last stage of pregnancy and not during the whole of labour, arguing that the risk of introducing the virus was still there.