The night of 6th March 2020 will forever be remembered as the moment Malta registered its first case of COVID-19… but the 12-year-old Italian girl who had tested positive wasn’t the first person on the island to be swabbed.
Answering a parliamentary question by Claudette Buttigieg yesterday, Health Minister Chris Fearne broke down Malta’s total of swab tests, which till then stood at 102,394.
And while it was revealed that a fourth of all swabs were people returning for another test, a second breakdown of cases per month revealed that, as might’ve been expected, a number of swabs were carried out before Malta’s first positive case.
A total of 150 different people were swabbed in February 2020, days or even weeks ahead of Malta’s first confirmed case of COVID-19.
Moreover, since a total of 156 tests were carried out that month, this means that six swabs were people who had returned for another test even before Malta got its first case of COVID-19.
Considering the number of individuals who were tested in March – 6,835 – was not further broken down by separate days, it is entirely possible that the total number of people who were tested before that young Italian girl is actually slightly higher than 150.
Testing for COVID-19 in Malta really kicked off the following month, with 22,185 different people being swabbed in April, 28,961 in May, and 17,721 in June.