A man who was a defendant in a court sitting today in Valletta was found to be COVID-19 positive following the sitting, informed sources have confirmed with Lovin Malta.
As a result, a small number of people present will be voluntarily self-isolating as an extra precaution. Among those present in court were the presiding magistrate, lawyers, court officials, police officers, journalists and various other professionals.
However, it is understood that key court officials, including the magistrate, did not need to self-isolate.
The case occurred after three men (charged separately) had been tested for the coronavirus; the first two tests had resulted in the negative, but the third man’s result had not been obtained, and because the man was approaching being remanded in custody for 48 hours without being charged (the maximum time limit allowed under Maltese law) he was taken to court.
It was only after the sitting was over that the test came back positive. All those present were informed, with some present booking tests to confirm they were not positive.
One source intimate with the case said that all precautions necessary under the current circumstances were taken in court, with the defendant wearing a mask, and not a visor, the entire time.
Legal experts said that the much-awaited roll-out of rapid testing for people who were arrested would minimise the chances of something like this happening again, and minimise the chances that police officers are put in a vulnerable position.
An earlier version of this article said one defendant had been tested three times, when in fact there were three different defendants tested once each. The error is regretted.