2020 coronavirus pandemic in Malta

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{Corona virus in Malta (covid-19)}{short description|Details of ongoing viral pandemic in Malta}}

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Malta
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationMalta
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseValletta
Arrival date7 March 2020
(4 weeks and 2 days)
Confirmed cases227
Severe cases2[1]
Recovered5[2]
Deaths
0
Official website
covid19malta.info

During the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, the first case of COVID-2019 in Malta was found positive in an Maltese 12 year-old schoolgirl on 7 March 2020. The girl and her family were in isolation, as required by those following the Maltese health authority's guidelines who were in Italy or other highly infected countries. Later, both her parents were found positive to the virus. As of 2 April 2020, Malta has reported 227 confirmed cases, 5 recoveries and no deaths.[1]

Despite most activities have been banned in Malta, the government has allowed the opening of the hunting season. The Superintendence of Public Helath left it to the decision of a government-set committee. The decision is putting more pressure on the police force and the health sector, which is already struggling to cope with enforcement for public health.[3]

Health authorities have through legal means enforced people coming from highly infected countries for self-quarantine, failing which they may be fined for public health risks. While strict measures are being enforced by health authorities, the Maltese government has been criticised over lack of serious preparation for an outbreak. The government responded by saying that the matter should not be politicised. A mandatory quarantine has been imposed on travellers and those who were possibly in contact with those who went abroad. People with symptoms similar to those of the virus are required to also isolate themselves.

History[edit]

Health and precautions[edit]

On January 24, the Superintendent for Public Health, Charmaine Gauci, predicted low exposure due to no direct flights between Malta and China.[4]

On February 24, the health authorities announced that all passengers arriving in Malta were screened by thermal cameras. Two thermal scanning devices were installed in Malta International Airport. Passengers disembarking from vessels at the Grand Harbour and catamaran terminal in Marsa were also scanned. At Mater Dei Hospital, all patients with respiratory symptoms were checked for COVID-19.[5]

On February 25, the Ministry for Health recommended travellers coming from Italy to self-quarantine for 14 days and for all citizens not to travel to regions of Italy affected by the outbreak.[6][7] As the Italy coronavirus pandemic proceeded south with the first case discovered in Palermo, panic buying ensued and supermarkets were emptied.[8][9]

Maltese chandlers and ship workers refused to board vessels from Italy to unload cargo, unless they were provided supervision and clearance by medical doctors.[10] The Malta Union of Teachers recommended members not to accept any homework from students who were unwell and requested students and teachers who visited countries affected by the virus to stay home.[11]

Some work places requested their staff who recently returned from Italy to work from home as well as deferred non-essential travels to Italy.[12]

On March 11, a travel ban has been placed on trips to Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland, in addition to the ban on trips to Italy. Additionally anyone travelling back from mentioned countries must follow a mandatory self-quarantine. Disobeying the order makes the individuals subject to a €1,000 fine.[13]

Measures for containment[edit]

On March 11, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced ban on all sea and air travel (except for cargo) and a mandatory quarantine on travellers returning from the most infested countries of France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain from that day onwards, together with Italy, for which it applied for the previous 14 days. Infringements were to be met with a €1,000 fine per day.[14]

On March 12, the Prime Minister announced a number of measures including:

  1. the closure of all schools, university and childcare centres for a week, starting 13 – 20 March,
  2. the closure of day centres for the elderly,
  3. stop on all mass activities unless absolutely necessary,
  4. all senior football games to be played behind closed doors. Other matches were been postponed,
  5. From Monday, the television channel TVM2 will be transmitting mass and the rosary prayers in agreement with the Archbishop to limit the number of people congregating in church,
  6. No political activities will be held.[15]

As of March 13, mandatory quarantine was extended to travellers returning from any country. This was also published on the Malta Tourism Authority's and Air Malta's websites.[16][17][18]

Further to abuses reported from spot checks, Malta tripled it's mandatory quarantine fine to €3,000 each time on March 16.[19] Later on in the evening, Abela informed the nation that all gyms, bars and restaurants would temporarily close. Food and Beverage outlets were to be allowed to operate only if they were offering take away and/or delivery service.[20]

On March 22, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced three more measures:

  1. the temporary closure of all non-essential retail until otherwise declared (fashion, appliances, electronics, etc.)
  2. the temporary closure of all non-essential services until otherwise declared (hairdressers, nail salons, beauticians, spas, etc.)
  3. the temporary banning of all organised gatherings

Any infringements were to be charged with a €3,000 fine each time.[21]

In the evening of March 23, the Maltese authorities warned that the fine for those infected are up to €10,000, and are already being enforced.[22][23]

On March 28, The government has announced decisions regarding schools, educational institutions and examinations in light of the COVID-19 situation.

  1. Schools and educational institutions will remain closed until the end of June, which is the end of the current scholastic year.
  2. Every student who is in their current grade will progress to the next grade automatically, in the same class he or she is in.
  3. In the case of students who are in Year 6, their mark will be based on assessment. This means that the Year 6 benchmark will not be done.
  4. In the case for students who are in Year 7, Year 8, Year 9 and Year 10, they will progress to their next year in the same group respectively.
  5. The SEC examinations (O Levels) will not be done in the session beginning on the 23rd of April. A predictive assessment method undertaken by MATSEC will instead be utilised. This will be based on the marks obtained during the mock exams. To establish the result, MATSEC will take into consideration the students’ marks, the corrected examination papers and the marking schemes that were used.
  6. MATSEC will then issue a certificate to successful students, showing whether Level 2 or Level 3 was reached. This certificate will allow students with the opportunity to progress into post-secondary schools.
  7. The opportunity will be also given to students, if they wish to do so, to sit for the SEC examinations during the September session.
  8. Intermediate and A Level exams will not be held during the session starting on the 23rd of April, but will instead be postponed to September of this year. Students will be receiving timetables and all details.
  9. The re-sit session will be done in December. This being said, all the necessary provisions will be undertaken so that students be given the opportunity to enrol into University, MCAST, ITS or other educational institutions in the coming academic year.
  10. In the case of students who are currently undergoing their studies in University, MCAST, ITS or other educational institutions, the necessary arrangements will be done so that they are able to continue their studies. Online teaching will, of course, continue, and they encourage all students, irrespective of whether they are kids or young people, to continue with their learning and studies.

First case till local transmission[edit]

On 7 March, Malta reported its first 3 cases of coronavirus: an Italian family consisting of a 12-year-old girl and her parents, who arrived in Malta on 3 March from Rome after a holiday in Trentino. The girl was the first case, with the parents testing positive for the coronavirus later in the day. They had been in self-quarantine since arriving from Italy, and they are now held in isolation at Mater Dei Hospital.[24]

As of 8 March 2020, 540 tests have been carried out. This includes all those who were in contact with the infected family. Other than the family, all tested negative. Reports of other cases were dismissed as dissemination of false information.[25] A further 10 people were tested on 9 March with one positive result reported positive in the evening, bringing the overall number to 4 cases.[26] The man did not follow quarantine regulations for the first two days, which caused outrage among those possibly affected.[27] His daughter was found also positive, becoming the fifth case.[28] The fourth and fifth cases were reported as being Norwegians living in Malta.

In the morning of March 11, the 6th case of COVID-19 was confirmed with the patient being a Maltese man coming back from Italy. That same evening, the 7th case was confirmed and the patient was a relative of his who had travelled with him to Italy.[29][30]

Origin of COVID-19 infections in Malta[a]
Imported  Italy 9
 Spain 3
 France 2
 UK 2
 Norway 3
 Ireland 1
Unspecified South America 1
Unknown 0
Total imported 18+
Communal 2nd degree[b] 55+
3rd degree[c] 5+
Unknown link[d] 1
Total communal 45+
Undetermined[e] 1
Total[needs update] 227

In the morning of March 12, the 8th and 9th cases of the COVID-19 were confirmed.[31]

By midday of March 13, 889 tests had been carried out in Malta and consequently 3 further cases of the COVID-19 were announced, bringing the total to 12.[32] All cases were imported from abroad. The 10th case was a Maltese man, 45, who returned from Münich on March 6, 11th case is an Italian man, 40, who returned from Paris on 6 March, and the 12th case was a Maltese woman, 30, who returned from Brussels on 9 March.[33] Later in the day, the first recovery form the virus in Malta was reported.

As of March 14 there were 18 cases.[34]

On March 15, further 3 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 were reported in Malta, bringing the total to 21.[35] In total 1,385 tests had been carried out, split between 722 tests on people who came from abroad and showed symptoms, and 663 tests on people who did not go abroad but displayed some sort of symptoms.[36]

On March 13 and 15, the first and second cases recovered from the COVID-19 coronavirus in Malta. The two individuals were to remain under quarantine in view of the revelations that the virus can re-emerge within survivors.[37] [38]

On 16 March, Malta's Covid-19 cases have risen to 30 with nine new cases being recorded overnight, Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said on Monday. Three of the cases were local transmission after people who came from holidays abroad infected co-workers. The three local transmissions were healthcare professionals, who contracted the virus from other healthcare workers who tested positive after returning from holiday.[39]

The imported cases are of a 56-year-old Maltese woman who returned from the UK, a 34-year-old Maltese man who was on holiday in Barcelona with another person who had tested positive, a 15-year-old Spanish boy who was stopped at the airport with a group of friends, who are now in quarantine, a 49-year-old Italian woman who lives in Malta and whose husband returned from Rome, a 39-year-old man from the UK who lives in Malta and a 19-year-old Maltese teenager who was with the same group that returned from Dublin and who tested positive in previous days.[39]

At noon, on March 17, in a press briefing, the Maltese health authorities confirmed 8 further cases of the COVID-19, bringing the total to 38.[40]

Of these last 8 cases, two were in contact with other people with coronavirus, four returned from abroad but put themselves into quarantine after their arrival to Malta, one of them work together with someone who was returning from Italy but who was not presenting symptoms, and the last one is unsure where he could get the virus because he did not travel and was not in contact with anybody with the virus. They found out that this last case was going to the gym, and he could have gotten it there.[41]

At midday on March 18, ten new cases were reported, including, for the first time, two patients aged over 70. All the patients are doing well.[42][43]

On March 19, only five new cases were reported.[44]

At noon, on March 20, 11 new cases of coronavirus patients were reported. These included the case of a 61-year-old man, who was the first Maltese case of a COVID-19 patient who developed complications of the infection.[45][46]

On March 21, nine new cases were reported. These cases were an Indian national, 30, residing in Malta; unemployed, no travel history: he was in contact with a travel-related case, a Maltese woman, 49, who had contact with another person already positive with coronavirus contracted through travel. She reported symptoms on 19 March; two household members live with her, A school worker, she last worked there on 2 March. No risk of contagion for those who worked with her, a Maltese migrant to Australia who went into self-quarantine after travelling here from London also reported fever. Households members are under quarantine, a 25-year-old Maltese woman who returned from the UK to Malta. She then went into self-quarantine on her own in an apartment. Consequently, contact-tracing of those on the flight home was done. A Maltese national, 55, with no travel history and no symptomatic contacts, reported symptoms March 14 with fever and muscle pain. He worked on March 13, a day before symptoms emerged. Contact tracing ongoing, a woman whose relative reported being ill after returning from England. She reported symptoms on March 19. She last reported attending university on March 10. This case was contained and controlled by the authorities, with household members also being tested. A foreign national in Malta, 41, who was not in contact with people living abroad was also amongst those reported, yet there is no clear indication of how this local transmission occurred. Contact tracing of workmates was being actioned. A Somali person who works in Malta, 44 years old, who flew to Brussels between March 15 and March 18, reported fever and chest pain. He reported to Mater Dei the day before after being in self-quarantine since he returned to Malta.[47]

On March 22, seventeen new cases were reported. 10 of the 17 cases were believed to be related to travel, while the other 7 were believed to be locally transmitted. Among the patients were an 18-year-old Maltese woman and a 37-year-old Maltese man, both of whom travelled to the UK; a 50-year-old Swedish man and 22-year-old Maltese man, whom both travelled to northern Italy; a Hungarian youth who is believed to have contracted the virus from his father; a 24-year-old Finnish youth who travelled to Vienna; a 51-year-old Maltese man who travelled to Morocco; a woman who travelled to Belgium, as well as a 46-year-old Maltese woman and another woman whose partner works in the tourism industry and is believed to have transmitted the virus to her. Among the seven other cases are a 27-year-old Maltese healthcare worker. There is also a 74-year-old man, a 60-year-old Maltese woman, a 42-year-old Indian individual and a 28-year-old Somali man. A number of patients have already been sent home, where they will self-quarantine for two weeks before they were to be tested again for the virus.[48]

On March 23, another seventeen new cases were reported.[49]

On March 24, three new cases were reported.

On March 25, nineteen new cases were reported.

On March 26, five new cases were reported.

On March 27, five new cases were reported and a total of 4662 tests have been carried out. [50]

On March 28, ten new cases were reported.

On March 29, two new cases were reported.

On March 30, five new cases were reported.

On March 31, thirteen new cases were reported.

On April 1, nineteen new cases were reported, Five being transmitted from abroad.

On April 2, seven new cases were reported. Another case was counted with the previous day already.[51]

On April 3, seven new cases were reported. The Health Authority is alerted that one of the infected lives at the Har Far Open Centre for refugees.[52]

On April 4, eleven new cases were reported.

On April 5, fourteen new cases and 3 recoveries were reported. As the most infected are African immigrants living in one single place, alarms of massive contagion has been alerted. This has prompted the government to lockdown the reception centre in Ħal Far, where 8 cases were found positive in an area that accommodates around 1,000 people packed together.[53]

Timeline[edit]

COVID-19 cases in Malta  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases
Date
# of cases
# of deaths
2020-03-06
3(n.a.)
2020-03-07
3(=)
2020-03-08
5(+66%)
2020-03-09
5(=)
2020-03-10
7(+40%)
2020-03-11
9(+28%)
2020-03-12
13(+44%)
2020-03-13
18(+38%)
2020-03-14
21(+16%)
2020-03-15
30(+28%)
2020-03-16
38(+42%)
2020-03-17
48(+26%)
2020-03-18
53(+10%)
2020-03-19
64(+20%)
2020-03-20
73(+14%)
2020-03-21
90(+23%)
2020-03-22
107(+18%)
2020-03-23
110(+2%)
2020-03-24
129(+17%)
2020-03-25
134(+3%)
2020-03-26
139(+3%)
2020-03-27
149(+7%)
2020-03-28
151(+1%)
2020-03-29
156(+3%)
2020-03-30
169(+8%)
2020-03-31
188(+11%)
2020-04-01
195(+4%)
2020-04-02
202(+4%)
2020-04-03
213(+5%)
2020-04-04
227(+12%)

References[edit]

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External links[edit]