WATCH: Reductions announced on measures for activities and quarantine periods
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne has stated that 78 new cases have been registered in the past 24 hours and there are presently 1,206 active cases. Dr Fearne explained that 95% of the new cases are from the Delta variant, and the other 5% are from the Brazilian variant.
Dr Fearne made his announcement during a media conference which he addressed together with Public Health Superintendent Professor Charmaine Galea.
Referring to vaccinations, Dr Fearne stated that 86% of adults have been given the full dose and 88% have been given the first dose. Referring to children in the 12 to15 age group, Minister Fearne stated that 86% had received the first dose and 39% have been fully vaccinated.
Dr Fearne also announced the death of an 88-year-old woman who had tested positive for Covid-19 some days ago.
Hospitalised persons with Covid-19
Dr Fearne further stated that 35 persons who are positive with Covid-19 are presently receiving treatment at Mater Dei Hospital. The Minister explained that four of these patients are in the ITU, adding that three of them have not been vaccinated, including a pregnant woman. The other person, who has been vaccinated, suffers from a condition.
Dr Fearne observed that when the country had the same number of positive cases in December, there were 160 persons who were being treated in hospital. The Minister explained that today, thanks to the vaccine, there are 35 persons in hospital.
Dr Fearne stated that in light of this, there is no need for an increase in restrictions, in fact, some restrictions can even be reduced. The Minister also referred to activities that can presently be attended by vaccinated persons in clusters of 200.
Dr Fearne added that with effect from 16 August the cluster will go up to 300 persons. He further explained that the same protocol will apply, being that people will have to be seated, maintain social distancing, wear masks and those attending will have to be vaccinated. A fortnight later, on 30 August, the cluster number will go up to 500.
Replying to a question from the media, Dr Feaarne explained that in activities when those attending have to remain standing, social distancing cannot be maintained. Accordingly, in deference to the virus, activities that can be held at this point have to be with people seated. Dr Fearne added this did not mean standing events will no longer be held.
Another restriction that may be reduced is that of a person who will come into contact with a positive person. To date, one has been obliged to go into quarantine for 14 days. From 16 August, holders of a vaccination certificate and who come into contact with a positive person will now go into quarantine for seven days instead of 14 days. Minister Fearne explained that a positive person and persons living with him or her have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
In reference to quarantine, Public Health Superintendent Professor Charmaine Gauci explained that persons who will now start going into quarantine for seven days will have to make a swab test appointment online. The Superintendent added that they will have to take with them the letter stating they had to go into quarantine, the vaccination certificate, and their ID Card.
Vaccination for pregnant women
Referring to the vaccination for pregnant women, Dr Fearne stated they were following the situation and discussions had been held with specialists. The Minister explained that as there had not been sufficient information, the advice had been that the vaccination should not be taken. Dr Fearne added it appears the risk if one is not vaccinated, both for the mother and for the baby, is greater than if one is vaccinated. In which case women in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, being from the 13th week onward, can be vaccinated on the advice of their doctors.
Referring to the booster, Dr Fearne stated it does not appear so far that vaccine immunity is being reduced, even in those who were vaccinated at an early stage. The Minister added that persons suffering from certain conditions might need a booster dose.
Dr Fearne explained that it has been decided at this stage that from mid-September one booster dose will be given to persons considered as having major complications and who are more at risk despite having been given both doses of the vaccine. Besides this group, booster doses will also be given to residents in homes or the elderly. The Minister explained that these residents in homes for the elderly will be vaccinated at the residences whilst others will be given an appointment.
Referring to immuno-compromised persons, Dr Fearne said these are persons who are under treatment or on medications. He explained that the health authorities know who these persons are as they are treated in hospitals, and they will be receiving an invitation for the booster.
Minister Fearne added there is as yet no indication that the rest of the population needs to be given a vaccine booster. This means that about 15,000 persons will be given the booster.
Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci, who also addressed the media, spoke about the situation regarding the schools of English. Professor Gauci stated that some 700 positive cases had been registered among students of English. She added that the schools can operate at present if the students arriving in Malta are vaccinated. Professor Gauci explained that the majority of positive cases during the past month were persons travelling to Malta. The Superintendent also spoke about the vaccine and noted it did not mean that vaccinated persons cannot result positive with the virus.
Referring to the nanocovax vaccine, Dr Fearne stated that the European Union has an agreement with the company for 200 million doses. The Minister explained that even Malta has vaccines booked with this company, although these will not be administered immediately as the country has enough vaccines.