[WATCH] COVID-19 briefing: Two deaths and 52 new cases

COVID-19 update for 1 April | 2 deaths • 52 new cases • 146 recoveries • 740 active cases • 1,762 Swab tests past 24 hours • Vaccine doses administered till Wednesday 197,383

Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci
Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci

52 new cases of COVID-19 were registered on Thursday, the health ministry has said.

197,383 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered until Wednesday. Of which, 54,578 were second doses.  

Total recoveries stand at 27,951, while total cases registered stand at 29,085.

There are 740 active COVID-19 cases.

Two persons died in the last 24-hours. Two men aged 69 and 71, both of whom died at Mater Dei Hospital. 

The total number of deaths is 394.

1,762 swab tests were carried out in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of swabs to 811,102.

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said that 14 people were in the ITU at Mater Dei Hospital.  

Other admissions: 10 in infectious diseases unit • 44 in other wards • 4 in Gozo hospital (1 ITU) • 14 in Sir Paul Boffa hospital • 13 in St Thomas hospital • 8 in the Good Samaritan facility • 2 in Mount Carmel Hospital • 4 Karin Grech.

Gauci said the number of cases was beginning to plateau. She said the seven-day moving average is 68 cases.

76% of cases detected in Malta are the UK variant, which has been found to be more infectious than the original strain. Gauci warned that the variant was a "concern." Asked about how many deaths were due to the UK variant, Gauci did not respond.

Household clusters continue to dominate with 162 cases, followed by social gatherings with 55 cases.

Gauci said because most of the cases emerging are from family clusters, their origin is hard to detect; this she said means the virus is still present in the community.

Gauci said the largest number of cases are being recorded between the ages of 24-44. 

Gauci said that they are now seeing a correlation between hospitalisation and what is happening on the outside. “When active cases decrease, so do people who need hospital stays,” she said.

Regarding the green pass, Gauci said the Maltese authorities are currently still looking into how it will work. This certificate will be available free of charge, in digital or printed format.

Asked by MaltaToday whether there was a system in which persons between 60 and 69 were receiving their appointment for the vaccine, Gauci said it was important to remember multiple programs were going on parallel to each other. She also pointed out there were age restrictions on certain vaccines. She said that might be the reason a 60-year-old is given an appointment before, a 69-year-old.

Turning to side-effects, Gauci said that it was normal to experience some after taking the vaccine.

Gauci said that the Johnson and Johnson, the only single-dose vaccine to be approved by the European Medicines Agency, can be given to persons 18 years and over. 

Gauci said of the six people who died after receiving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, three tested positive less than 14 days after taking the second dose.

Seven arrivals into the country tested positive at the airport, all from Poland and Bulgaria, where there is a high rate of COVID-19 transmission. 

On plans for exiting the current shutdown, which is due to end on 11 April, Gauci said the government would announce the strategy for exiting it. 

Gauci reiterated her appeal for people to remain safe and follow the COVID-19 measures while wishing everyone a happy Easter. "When everyone is responsible, Malta is successful," she said.