One person in Malta has been tested for a deadly new virus that is spreading from China, health authorities have confirmed.
The test results were negative, meaning the coronavirus has so far not been detected on the island. A further four people were being followed up by Maltese health authorities after returning from a visit to China recently, Newsbook reported.
Once the test is taken, a positive or negative result is given within two hours, with Dr Chris Barbara, Chairperson of the Mater Dei Pathology Department, saying the test was “very sensitive and quite specific”.
This comes days after Health Minister Chris Fearne said the coronavirus would eventually hit Malta – though the country is prepared for it.
Health authorities discussed the new virus, which has claimed at least 425 lives and spread to over 20,400 people, during a seminar in San Ġwann last night.
Agreeing that there was no cause for alarm, the Chairperson of the Malta Medicines Authority Professor Anthony Serracino-Inglott said there was such a “fuss” about the coronavirus, which exhibits similar symptoms to influenza, because it was new and there was a fear of the unknown.
Malta was currently in the “containment phase” of prevention, with a system set up to intercept people coming from China, Dr Tanya Melillo Fenech of the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Unit said.
Screening procedures are being undertaken, with a quarantine zone set up at Mater Dei in case someone is found to be carrying the coronavirus.
Malta International Airport is also screening anyone coming from cities where cases of the virus have been recorded at a specific isolation area located in the airport.
Though pharmacies reported that they had run out of masks over the last week, a Mater Dei doctor has confirmed that the hospital has enough protective gear, with more expected to arrive within days. GPs who had run out of masks were advised to contact Mater Dei to obtain more.
If you intend on travelling, you are advised to carry a bottle of alcohol rub with you and use it on your hands at regular intervals.
Proper hygiene is essential in the battle against the coronavirus, with each infected person expected to pass the coronavirus onto at least two other people.