It’s now been 80 days since Malta confirmed its first COVID-19 case and while this pandemic is certainly not a closed chapter in our lives, enough dust has settled to assess the country’s reaction to it.
There have been a fair few warnings about a second wave, quite a lot of criticism at the way restrictions were lifted and even a forensic look at the Prime Minister’s bowl of chips.
However, taking everything into consideration, including the way this virus had brought other countries’ healthcare systems to their knees, Malta has handled the crisis remarkably well so far.
Here are some numbers which prove it:
98.7%: Malta’s current recovery rate among COVID-19 patients is extremely high, comparable with the likes of New Zealand (98.6%), Australia (98.5%) and South Korea (97.5%), whose strategies against the virus have won them international plaudits.
22: The number of COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalised, some of whom are only being kept there to prevent them from potentially infecting their household members. This means that Malta currently has enough isolated hospital beds to spare for people who don’t even require hospital treatment.
0: The number of COVID-19 patients currently receiving intensive care. From the start of the pandemic, the authorities have made it clear that their plan is to prevent Malta’s hospitals from getting over-burdened with COVID-19 patients, a situation that could have forced doctors to prioritise who gets treatment.
Thankfully, the numbers of intensive care patients have remained low throughout.
42: The number of currently unoccupied hospital beds at a makeshift ward at the University of Malta, which have been prepared in case the island gets hit by a serious second wave of the virus which would stretch Mater Dei’s limits.
150: The number of ventilators currently in stock, none of which are currently being used on COVID-19 patients. Ventilators quickly became the most sought-after medical device in the world during this pandemic but Malta has never come close to running out of stock.
63,087: The number of swab tests carried out so far. Malta has embarked on an aggressive testing strategy and has so far tested more people per capita than all but six countries worldwide.
45: The number of minutes it can take between booking a swab test and actually getting tested. Compare this to other countries, such as the UK, where until recently tests were only offered to essential workers and their families, and you’d realise how extremely efficient Malta’s system has proven to be.
12: The number of days since a COVID-19 patient last died. Every death is a tragedy, but compared to the high figures recorded by other countries, six deaths in three months is relatively minuscule.
1: Malta’s ranking in a recent EU-wide survey which gauged people’s trust in their healthcare systems. Faced with the greatest health crisis in a generation, the fact that Malta has outshone all other EU countries in this regard is certainly no mean feat.
Malta is by no means out of the woods yet and we shouldn’t let our positive results lull us into the sense of complacency that gripped Floriana FC’s fans last night.
However, a sense of perspective always helps, and when you compare the island’s reality with what happened in other countries and with all the scary predictions and warnings about what could happen to Malta, it becomes difficult to escape the conclusion that this tiny island has so far passed its COVID-19 test with flying colours.
How would you assess Malta’s performance since the start of the pandemic?