Four months since first case of Covid-19 in Malta… what is the situation today?

Four months after the first case of the Coronavirus appeared in Malta, the rate of transmission of the virus from one person to the other, known as the R Factor went down to 0.33, which means that three infected people can infect one person.

The Supt of Public Health Prof Charmaine Gauci, said that before an effective vaccine is found, we cannot say that we are free of the Coronavirus. “There were many countries which had several days without any cases and said that they were ‘Covid free’, but it is clear that one can only say one is ‘Covid free’ when a vaccine which is effective is found and you have enough to be able to give it to the whole population.”

Prof Gauci said that although lately there were days when no swab tests resulted as positive, this does not mean we can relax mitigation measures. “It is important to keep adhering to all mitigation measures to keep the situation stable.”

She appealed for people to maintain a social distance of two metres between them, to wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol sanitiser, and to wear masks or visors. She explained that studies show that the rate of transmission of the virus goes down considerably through the use of masks.

“We need to be responsible and respect others, because with my mask I protect you, and with your mask, you protect me, therefore it is not enough for me to wear one. Everyone needs to wear it.”

Prof Gauci said that although the public health emergency was lifted, masks need to be worn according to the Public Health Act. “In fact you have places such as for example, at a retail outlet, in banks, on bus stops and buses, and where you are going to meet people on other means of transport such as the Gozo ferry –  it is very important that masks need to be worn in these places, according to law.”

With regard to the fact that Malta has managed to control the virus without having to go on full lockdown, Prof Gauci said that this is a result of various factors –  the main ones being the swab tests, isolating people who tested positive, and the quarantine of people who are close to them. “One of the best tools we had in our hands was that we saw that people cooperated, they were educated about the virus, and that they also controlled themselves.”

For the second time in less than a week, health authorities have confirmed the second imported case –  this time of a passenger with a foreign nationality who is a Maltese resident. Prof Gauci said that these repatriation flights are still taking place for Maltese citizens and those with resident permits and they are from countries which are not on the list of 20 destinations in Europe from which flights have started operating. She explained that these passengers need to have a test before they travel and have another  one when they arrive in Mata, and another test while they are in quarantine.

Despite the fact that on 15 July, restrictions to and from other countries will be lifted,  Prof Gauci said there will still be a list of countries which are considered high risk and that travel to these countries will not be allowed.