Coronavirus national response team set up, as Malta takes precautionary measures

Malta's public health authorities taking precautions in light of novel coronavirus outbreak in China

The Superintendence of Public Health is taking a number of precautions in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China
The Superintendence of Public Health is taking a number of precautions in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China

Malta’s public health authorities have set up a coordinating team for national response in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

In a statement on Saturday, the Superintendence of Public Health said it is monitoring the situation of the clusters of pneumonia detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and is following the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

What precautions is Malta taking in relation to the outbreak?

  • A coordinating team for national response has been set up and is being led by the Superintendence of Public Health
  • There is constant communication with the WHO, the ECDC and the EU Health Security Committee. The European Council is organising regular teleconferences for all member states to which Malta Public Health authorities participate to receive updates and advice on actions to take
  • Surveillance and preparedness for case finding has been enhanced
  • Communications are being issued to the media, and advice is being given to clinicians and travellers
  • Preparedness is taking place at Mater Dei Hospital and as well as through the Primary Care Organising of laboratory testing via coordination with labs abroad and local testing, infection control measures and preparedness at hospital level should there be a suspected case

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Advice for travellers

Travellers should:

  • Avoid visiting wet markets or places where live or dead animals are handled
  • Avoid contact with sick persons, in particular those with respiratory symptoms
  • Adhere to good hand and food hygiene
  • Avoid contact with animals, their excretions or droppings

Travellers with acute respiratory symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, cough or sore throat) within 14 days of visiting Wuhan are advised to contact their doctor and indicate their travel history to Wuhan and contact the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Unit on 21324086.

In addition, due to the currently high activity of the seasonal influenza epidemic in China, travellers should receive seasonal influenza vaccination at least two weeks prior to travel to prevent severe disease.

No travel restrictions are recommended as yet, as per WHO advice.


Following the first reports of a cluster of pneumonia cases in the Chinese Wuhan municipality at the end of December 2019, Chinese authorities identified, at the start of 2020, a new coronavirus which is genetically related to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, as a causative agent.

To date, almost 500 human infections in China as well as exported cases in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States have been confirmed. The outbreak in Wuhan has initially been linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak.

However, so far, the source of infection remains unknown and can therefore still be active, which could lead to further cases being detected. The outbreak investigations are on-going and in this rapidly evolving context.

The WHO convened an Emergency Committee on 22 and 23 January to determine if this outbreak should be categorised as a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concerns). 

It was decided that it is too early to declare a PHEIC, however, WHO called for all countries to have preparedness and response plans in place with a focus on early detection, testing, and isolation of cases.