Maltese health authorities are currently investigating whether the so-called UK variant which is behind the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, causes a more severe illness than the original virus.
Speaking during her weekly COVID-19 situation update, Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci said that while it was known that the variant was more easily transmissible, it wasn’t clear whether it caused a more severe infection.
The new variant is currently believed to be responsible for roughly 60% of positive cases registered.
Gauci said that the situation was being monitored and investigated, adding that authorities would continue to act on the basis of the latest scientific evidence.
The number of severe infections and hospitalisations has increased substantially in recent weeks, driven by the spread of the UK variant. There has also been a number of cases where people have died of COVID-19 who weren’t receiving treatment in hospital, including a 46-year-old woman who passed away in the last 24 hours.
There are now 26 patients in intensive care, up from 19 last Friday.
Without going into the merits of any particular case, Gauci stressed the importance of people remaining healthy in order to reduce the risk of complications due to underlying factors.
Gauci clarified that whenever a patient tests positive, they are immediately contacted by Mater Dei Hospital in order to determine the severity of their condition. Those with light or mild symptoms are generally allowed to continue receiving treatment at home.
On Mater Dei’s capacity to deal with more patients, Gauci said that all necessary precautions were being taken to continue to provide adequate healthcare to all patients that needed it.
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