Malta’s first confirmed case of the COVID-19 coronavirus is being contained and there is no need for alarm, Health Minister Chris Fearne has said.
At a press conference today, Fearne confirmed a Lovin Malta report that a 12-year-old Italian girl who lives in Malta had tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after returning from a holiday to Trentino, North Italy. He said the girl is in good condition and is being kept under isolation at Mater Dei, while her parents and sister are also being kept in isolation just in case they also contracted the virus.
He said the case appears to have been contained, and this because the family followed the Health Department’s advice for all people returning from countries heavily impacted by the coronavirus to self-quarantine themselves for 15 days.
“The family were on a holiday in Trentino between the end of February and the beginning of March and returned to Malta on a flight from Rome [last Tuesday]. Yesterday, the girl felt a fever and sore throat and her parents contacted the Health Department. She was swabbed overnight and the results emerged positive this morning.”
“Both girls and her parents followed the Health Department’s advice and self-quarantined after returning from Rome. The girls didn’t go to school and her parents didn’t go to work or leave their homes. Their contact with other people was minimal and we’re in the process of probing their movements in Malta to see what contact traces should take place.”
“However, it seems as though the Health Department’s advice, the new helpline and the swab results have proven effective. We noticed this case early on and it appears to have been isolated and contained.”
Fearne announced that Malta will open an isolated testing hub for people who fear they could have contracted the coronavirus and require swabbing, based on a model recently introduced by England and Scotland. More details will be announced on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Sir Paul Boffa Hospital is being prepared as an isolation unit as a precautionary measure in case the virus spreads. This will add 60 more beds to the 30 currently allocated at Mater Dei and elsewhere for potential coronavirus patients.
Mater Dei has also ordered more protective equipment and is expected to add 32,000 masks to its stock on Monday.
A new helpline 111 has also been launched for people with queries, doubts and fears about the coronavirus has also been launched, and Fearne said it will be manned by doctors on a 24/7 basis.