[WATCH] COVID-19: 121 new cases, 12 patients treated in ITU

COVID-19 update for 23 October | 121 new cases, 55 recoveries • 1,770 active cases • Swab tests past 24 hours 2,685 • Cases still being investigated

Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci
Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci

Malta has registered 121 new COVID-19 cases overnight, Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci announced. 

There were 55 recoveries, bringing the number of active cases to 1,770. 

The total number of cases stands at 5,258, while 3,439 have recovered from the virus. 49 people have so far died due to COVID-19. 

Gauci said that a large portion of cases continue to come from family clusters with 188 cases, followed by work clusters with 65 cases and social gatherings with 31 cases. There were also 11 imported cases and 11 cases which formed part of the Paceville cluster. 

The 7-day moving average is around 140 cases. Gauci said that this was very high and was reflected in the number of hospital admissions. 

There are currently 12 persons being treated in the ITU at Mater Dei Hospital, five in the Infectious Diseases Unit, with 22 persons being treated in other wards. 25 persons are also being treated at Boffa Hospital, 16 at St Thomas Hospital, one at Karen Grech Hospital and one at Mount Carmel Hospital.

Gauci said that the most common age group to contract the virus is currently between 25 and 34. The average age of infection is 38-years-old. She also said that there has been an increase in infections across all ages groups when compared to last week. 

1,305 tests have been conducted at the Malta International Airport on passengers arriving from countries on the amber list. This has yielded 43 positive cases. 

Care homes under control

Turning to care homes, Gauci said the situation was under control. She said the spread of the virus had been limited after precautions were taken. When such patients test positive for the virus, she said, the elderly are being immediately isolated to ensure the spread is controlled.  

Gauci said the spread in the community was "very serious," she urged the proper use of masks and other mitigation measures to help control the spread.

Appeal for persons to wear masks 

Last weekend mandatory use of face masks was introduced while in public in order to curb the spread of the virus. From tomorrow, those found not wearing a mask while in public will be subject to a fine.

Gauci stressed the importance of social distancing. She also appealed for masks to be worn properly. “Wearing a mask not only protects you, but it also protects those in contact with you that might be vulnerable." 

Gauci highlighted that persons inside a car did not need to wear a mask unless they were travelling with persons outside of their bubble.

“We are wearing a mask to protect each other, people shouldn’t find an excuse not to wear it,” she said. 

Gauci also said that 129 patients who had downloaded the COVID-19 tracing app had tested positive for the virus. This she said, made contact tracing easier. She urged the public to download the app. 

Rapid tests used for screening

Gauci said that rapid testing would be able to provide results in a short period, however, she said a further swab test would still be needed to confirm the results. 

She said that the authorities were currently in the final stages of reviewing the tests. They should be rolled out next week. 

Measures are only effective if 'adhered to' 

Asked whether she thought masks on their own would see actual results in numbers decreasing, Gauci said that it was imperative that the public kept in mind that the measures are the most effective when they are adhered to by all. 

On whether bars and restaurants should be closed. Gauci said that restaurants have not been a high risk, which is why more measures have been introduced to ensure bars follow the same procedures. 

Gauci said that 48 people have been fined for leaving their homes while infected since the start of the pandemic in March. Over 200 people have also been caught not self-isolating at home when they were told to quarantine. 

READ MORE: The complete guide to wearing a face-mask in COVID-19

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