'People need to socialise and lead fulfilling lives' - Charmaine Gauci addresses recent COVID spike

Gauci says that vaccines are most effective against preventing complications from COVID infections

Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci
Public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said that leading fulfilling lives, meeting people and socialising were of utmost importance, as she addressed the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Interviewed by Andrew Azzopardi on Radio 103 – Malta’s Heart on Saturday, Gauci said that the number of cases reported is never the real number. “We only catch the tip of the iceberg. Out there, there are much more cases, however we still observe the trends as they provide us with an insight to the real situation.”

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in recent weeks, averaging 550 cases in the last seven days. 

Gauci explained that the positivity rate in January, at the peak of the Omicron wave, was 16%, going up to 21% in April and then to 28% in the previous week. As per today, it stands at 25%.

“The prediction is that if cases go down, they will go down slower. There are currently new variants, with BA.2 showing prominence in Malta. Since it’s summer and more people are going abroad and going out, it’s easier for the virus to get transmitted.”

Gauci said that every new variant of Omicron is showing more transmissibility than the previous strains.

She did however say that during the Delta wave, the infections were more complicated and the symptoms were more severe. “We are currently in a situation where we have a higher vaccine coverage rate, and the second booster is being administered to those over 65. There is a massive difference in hospital admissions and ITU cases, in comparison to the Delta wave,” Gauci said.

She highlighted the importance of adapting our lives, whilst COVID was still a reality. “Our lives need to be fulfilled. People need to go out and meet with others – the elderly need to socialise. For a short period we could afford to stay indoors, but now we have to create the right balance.”

Gauci explained that although vaccines help against infections, they are more effective against serious complications and severe COVID symptoms.  

Asked whether masks should be obligatory on public transport, Gauci said that vulnerable people should wear an FFP2 mask. She added that the second booster roll out was highly successful, with 50% of those eligible taking it.

“The average in Europe is only at 12%. Our population trusts the health authorities.”


With regards to monkey pox, she said mentioned the limited number of cases that were detected in Malta and the rest of Europe.

She said the disease was imported from Africa, however the current multi-country outbreak is being transmitted in Europe. The few cases Malta has had (10) are part of this multi country outbreak and are not imported from Africa.

“The way the cases in Malta and Europe are presenting themselves is different to the usual monkey pox. People are developing limited rashes and the cases are self-limiting – requiring no hospital admission,” Gauci said. She explained that the majority of cases had been sexually transmitted, with a rash developing around the genitalia.

“This is not another Covid, let’s make that clear. It’s important that precautions are taken when one has multiple sexual partners, as this leads to a potential exposure of this disease and other STIs,” Gauci said.