As if anyone on the planet needed any other proof one whole year into this global pandemic that the best way to curb infections is by adding proper restrictive measures, all they need to do is look at Malta right now. The tiny island has gone from 510 new cases over 24 hours – one of the worst daily infection averages in the world – a fortnight ago, to a mere 67 new cases yesterday. And you wouldn’t believe what changed in the meantime.
Everything about the COVID-19 pandemic has come to work in 14-day cycles. Two weeks can refer to anything from how long people should quarantine for, to how long they’re expected to fight the virus until they recover. And because of this, it usually also means it takes around two weeks for any restrictive measure (or social fuck-up) to show any significant signs of effects.
Now, just over two weeks after Malta went into a lockdown (in practically everything but the name), the country’s daily average number of infections has gone down by over 70%.
During the week of 9th March, just before Prime Minister Robert Abela announced the new restrictive measures to the nation, Malta registered 248, 510, 283, 329, 298 and 268 new daily infections.
In the last six days, those numbers dropped to 90, 101, 102, 103, 93… and 67 yesterday.
This means the average number of new daily cases went from 322 to 92… and it’s been in a near-uninterrupted downward trend for all of last week.
Meanwhile, this has allowed previously-infected patients to recover (or be considered as recovered) en masse, with Malta’s active COVID-19 cases dropping from over 3,000 two weeks ago to less than half of that yesterday.
At the same time, while it needs to be said that testing has gone down by 1,000 or more daily swabs, it also stands to reason that fewer people feeling symptoms would account for fewer people asking to be tested. Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci called for increased testing despite everything just last Friday, but when you take into account that new cases would still be much lower than what they were weeks ago if you had to scale up the testing ratios, then the good news persists.
And with Malta’s second “lockdown” doing the trick, efficiently and drastically bringing down the number of infections to more manageable numbers, it’s almost like the country’s medical experts knew what they were saying all along in begging the authorities for more restrictions.
Of course, this is only one front of Malta’s battle against COVID-19, with the “attack” of the vaccine still steaming ahead.
However, it’s very easy to focus on one particular strategy and be a little too lenient on the other… which is why many frontliners had been pleading for the bolstering up of the island’s “defence” strategy; restrictive measures.
Now, with new infections continuing to plummet and a very long weekend just hours away, it’s vital that we don’t slip up again.
“In the week of Easter and the days after, I’m asking you for another effort of solidarity and responsibility,” Prime Minister Abela pleaded on Facebook yesterday, announcing new measures that would see public gatherings being limited to just two people and harsher fines being introduced.
“Let’s take care of each other so that we can kick off the road to normality in consistency with our plan,” Abela finished.
And with two public holidays on Wednesday and Friday, Easter on Sunday and warm weather expected to hit Malta all throughout, maybe the islands did need an extra measure like this to make sure new cases remain low.
Because at the end of the day, it’s that number – along with how many people are fully vaccinated – which will determine whether normality truly is within our reach.
What do you make of Malta’s latest numbers? Let us know in the comments below