[WATCH] COVID-19: 31 new cases, four patients in intensive therapy

COVID-19 update for 25 September | 31 new cases, 70 recoveries • 639 active cases • Overnight swab tests 2,545 • Total cases 2,929, including 29 deaths • 4 patients recovering at ITU, 2 critical

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci
Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci

Malta recorded 31 new cases of coronavirus overnight as four patients are recovering at Mater Dei Hospital's Intensive Therapy Unit, Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said.

Two of the four ITU patients are not in a stable condition, Gauci said during her weekly briefing on Friday afternoon.

This morning, a 78-year-old woman and 90-year-old man became the latest victims to die with COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 29. On Thursday, two elderly residents at care homes aged 91 and 73 also died from COVID-19.

In the last week, the island has seen an increase in COVID-19 deaths, particularly as the virus became more widespread in care homes for the elderly.

Gauci said that at 2.2, Malta's death rate was high and fuelled by the outbreak in homes for the elderly.

St Joseph Home crisis

This week, it was revealed that at the St Joseph’s care home, 113 of 278 residents had tested positive. There were also 29 staff members who tested positive and a further 50 were in quarantine.

Asked about the state of play at the St Joseph care home, Gauci said that infection control measures were introduced to isolate positive cases. Other residents who may have come in contact are also being kept isolated until the 14-day quarantine period is over.

She added that no people were allowed to enter the home and every resident is being tested once every three days. She said that the situation at the St Joseph Home had stabilised and there were fewer newer cases.

The nursing home cluster (residents and workers who tested positive) now counts a total of 207 cases. There were two residents each at the Simblija and Casa Antonia care homes who died of coronavirus and three deaths from the St Joseph Home.

Gauci said there were 70 recoveries overnight, bringing the number of active cases down to 639.

Gauci said that 37 COVID patients were recovering in hospitals - six at Mater Dei's Infectious Diseases Unit, eight in other wards of Mater Dei, four in ITU, 12 in Boffa Hospital, four in St Thomas Hospital and three at Mount Carmel Hospital.

This week, there were 76 new cases linked to known family clusters and 29 new cases from nursing homes. Another 21 new cases this week were traced back to workplace infections and 11 to gatherings.

The average age of people contracting the virus now stands at 45.

Sporadic cases  

Gauci said that 30% of cases are sporadic. She said the more sporadic cases are reduced the better. Gauci explained that there are a number of laws already in place, but unfortunately, not all of them are always being followed. She said more needed to be done to further strengthen the enforcement of these measures.

Contact tracing app

Gauci urged people to download the contact tracing app, which would enable specialists to identify positive cases and isolate them immediately. She said that in its first week of operation, the app was downloaded by more than 60,000 individuals.

Six people who tested positive over the past week had downloaded the app and were given a code to input in the system.

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