Live Update: Covid-19 Bulletin Malta – Sunday 17th May 2020

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Updated 12:45

Seven new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, taking Malta’s total to 553. With four recoveries, the number of active cases has edged up to 93. The Health Ministry has published this information on its Facebook, anticipating the Health Superintendent’s Press Conference for the second consecutive day.

From her end, Prof Charmaine Gauci said that most of the new cases were asymptomatic, with two of the new cases concerning employees working in retail outlets.  Four were foreigners, coming from Serbia, Italy, the Philippines and India.

A 55-year old Maltese man currently recovering from other conditions at Mater Dei was infected following contact with another person who was identified as positive in the past few days. Questioned by journalists, Prof Gauci said that the ward was different from the one in which a number of cases were identified earlier this week, named in the media as the ENT.

1,429 tests were carried out yesterday.



Update 11:10

Restaurants and hairdressers to be allowed to re-open within a few days – PM Abela

Speaking on One Television this morning, PM Robert Abela hinted that restaurants and services such as hairdressing will be allowed to open in the coming days. He downplayed concerns that the number of coronavirus cases spiked over the past days, saying that this happened after that testing numbers increased threefold.

Abela insisted that thanks to investment carried out in the past years as well as prior to the pandemic reaching our shores, the country was ready for any eventuality.
He indicated that further measures will be eased in the coming days and warned against scaremongering related to the second wave. The PM said it was completely fine to spend time at the beach as long as social distancing measures were respected.

The PM assured viewers that prior to the re-opening of educational institutions, Government will ensure that these places are secure and will be observing specific health protocols.

Pre-fab hospital will not be bought

Robert Abela also announced, during his interview on Labour media, that Government will be terminating the process to purchase a pre-fabricated hospital. This decision, he said, has been taken following “the advice of the health authorities”.

Update 10:00

If the daily number of new Covid-19 cases in Malta remains sustained over the coming days, then it would mean that the country is in a second wave of the virus, statistician Vincent Marmara told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Speaking in his weekly exclusive video blog with the newspaper, Marmara noted the increase in cases this past week when compared to the new cases over the past three weeks.

The reproduction ratio of the virus is one of the key figures which countries across the world have been trying to reduce ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began. The aim for countries has been to reduce the ratio to a level of 1 – which would mean that one person would transmit the virus to one other person.

Marmara said that if the 70-day period since the virus first appeared in Malta had to be taken as a whole, then the effective reproduction number as things stand would be below 1.

However, if only the last three weeks are considered in the mathematical model, then it shows a reproduction ratio which is above 1.  Therefore, he said, one must analyse whether this increase in cases will be sustained in order to understand whether this is indeed a second wave or not.

Update : 09:49 

EMCS have carried a survey on how the Maltese perceptions are shifting during the Covid-19. The survey shows that the private sector employees in Malta fearing for their job.  At the same time, in line with past surveys, the Maltese are overall satisfied with the way the government is handling the COVID-19 situation, both in terms of the health situation and the economic one. The survey results were also carried on the Times of Malta

72% of the general public is of the opinion that the government is handling the economic situation caused by COVID-19 in Malta well. Locals’ positive perception increased marginally (by 5%) when compared with the study conducted 2 weeks ago, though overall locals still have stronger positive views to how Government is handling the health situation (91% positive views as opposed to 94% 2 weeks ago). 71% expect the Government to come out with more financial assistance to support the economy (78% in the previous study). 57% of respondents indicated that their income had remained stable over the past month. Conversely, 40% indicated that their income had decreased. (Of these, 19% indicated that it had slightly decreased while 21% indicated that it had reduced considerably). This represents a marginal increase since 2 weeks ago (then 33% had indicated a decrease). 53% of those aged 25 to 44 indicated that their income had decreased this being the highest cluster.

In terms of expenditure, 32% indicated that their expenditure had not altered over the past month. 37% indicated that their expenditure had decreased while 32% indicated that it had increased.

A review of respondents’ attitudes towards shopping for non essential items (such as clothing, footwear etc) evidences that COVID-19 is not likely to impact considerably consumers’ purchasing trends among regular shoppers (those that shop every 2 months or more often). Prior to the COVID outbreak 51% of respondents indicated shopping for non essential products once a month or more often with 18% indicating to do so twice to three times a month or more often. Following the relaxation of restrictions, 17% of locals had gone shopping. Among those that had not yet gone, 10% indicated their likelihood of going within one month, while another 21% indicated their likelihood to go shopping for non essential products within 2 months.

Mixed views were noted when analysing consumers’ opinions with respect to major purchases such as furniture, electrical/electronic devices. 24% of the population think that now is the right moment for people to make major purchases such as furniture, electrical/electronic devices and similar, with another 26% indicating ‘over the next 3 months’ and 22% by year end. Conversely, 28% had conservative views with 25% indicating that it would be opportune to wait until 2021, with 3% indicating to wait till 2022.

Likewise, mixed views were observed with respect to online shopping trends following the COVID-19 outbreak. 30% indicated that their online shopping hand increased while 34% indicated a decrease. Once COVID is over 40% plan on doing more shopping online than they did prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Travelling is likely to be considerably impacted by COVID-19. A review of travel habits evidences that last year 60% of respondents had travelled at least once. Nonetheless, 19% indicated their likelihood of travelling within 6 months or more often once the airport is open. Conversely, 47% will wait until a vaccine is available prior to travelling.

Furthermore, the vast majority of respondents (86%) do not agree with the idea of a safe bubble that has been proposed whereby flights to and from countries deemed to have a low number of Covid cases such as Israel, Sweden and Sicily  will take place.

The general public does not think that the Government should open up the airport any time soon, with only 10% indicating that this should be done some time this year. Furthermore, the majority of the population (77%) are not ready to change their opinion, even if such a decision would result in an increase in unemployment (of between 15% and 20%). Such figures are consistent with results collated 2 weeks ago.

47% of respondents are likely to change their outlook on life following COVID (of these 32% indicated that it was likely while 15% indicated that it was most likely). Although marginally higher, this figure is consistent with the previous study (then 43%)

Conversely, 17% indicated that it was unlikely that their outlook on life to change.

Read more here 

The Maltese public will be once again waiting for announcements by the Prime Minister regarding changes in economic and social restrictions, following last Friday’s anticipations by Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli.

Although no official confirmations were made public, a number of restaurant owners posted on social media imagery which indicated preparations for an imminent re-opening. Farrugia had also indicated that a number of travel routes may be opened. However, the Nurses Union, strongly condemned any talk of re-opening Malta’s airport in the coming weeks. The MUMN described this as a “political measure from an economic perspective which can have huge repercussions on the lives of all those living on the Maltese islands”.

The number of coronavirus cases in Malta has now reached 546, with another 14 registered yesterday. After the first part of the week was characterised by low numbers, the last three days brought about double digit increases. Yet, Prof Gauci, who has long auspicated safety and caution in dealing with the crisis, did not appear too worried with this latest spike, insisting that Malta’s average reproductive factor remained below 1.

21 persons were fined €100 each during the continuous patrols that the Police and Environmental Health Officers are doing to ensure that there are no groups of more than four persons gathered in public places.

Concert of National Unity

We would like to remind you that this evening at 9, the first of a series of four concerts, Għajta Waħda, will be broadcast by TVM, ONE, NET, and 103. The concerts will serve to collect money for the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation. President George Vella said that every month €1m on aid are being spent for persons with social and
health problems.

Global Perspective: Since 31 December 2019 and as of 16 May 2020, 4 503 836 cases of COVID-19 (in accordance with the applied case definitions and testing strategies in the affected countries) have been reported, including 307 295 deaths.

Cases have been reported from:

Africa: 78 432 cases; the five countries reporting most cases are South Africa (13 524), Egypt (11 228), Morocco (6 652), Algeria (6 629) and Ghana (5 638).

Asia: 751 862 cases; the five countries reporting most cases are Turkey (146 457), Iran (116 635), India (85 940), China (84 038) and Saudi Arabia (49 176).

America: 1 997 510 cases; the five countries reporting most cases are United States (1 443 397), Brazil (218 223), Peru (84 495), Canada (74 602) and Mexico (45 032).

Europe: 1 666 892 cases; the five countries reporting most cases are Russia (262 843), United Kingdom (236 711), Spain (230 183), Italy (223 885) and Germany (173 772).

Oceania: 8 444 cases; the five countries reporting most cases are Australia (7 019), New Zealand (1 148), Guam (154), French Polynesia (60) and Northern Mariana Islands (19).

Other: 696 cases have been reported from an international conveyance in Japan.

Deaths have been reported from:

Africa: 2 635 deaths; the five countries reporting most deaths are Egypt (592), Algeria (536), South Africa (247), Morocco (190) and Nigeria (171).

Asia: 23 906 deaths; the five countries reporting most deaths are Iran (6 902), China (4 637), Turkey (4 055), India (2 752) and Indonesia (1 076).

America: 120 406 deaths; the five countries reporting most deaths are United States (87 568), Brazil (14 817), Canada (5 562), Mexico (4 767) and Ecuador (2 594).

Europe: 160 215 deaths; the five countries reporting most deaths are United Kingdom (33 998), Italy (31 610), France (27 529), Spain (27 459) and Belgium (8 959).

Oceania: 126 deaths; the four countries reporting deaths are Australia (98), New Zealand (21), Guam (5) and Northern Mariana Islands (2).

Other: 7 deaths have been reported from an international conveyance in Japan.

European  Perspective

As of 16 May 2020, 1 295 781 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (236 711), Spain (230 183), Italy (223 885), Germany (173 772), France (141 919), Belgium (54 644), Netherlands (43 681), Sweden (29 207), Portugal (28 583), Ireland (23 956), Poland (18 016), Romania (16 437), Austria (16 068), Denmark (10 791), Czechia (8 406), Norway (8 197), Finland (6 228), Luxembourg (3 923), Hungary (3 473), Greece (2 810), Croatia (2 222), Bulgaria (2 138), Iceland (1 802), Estonia (1 766), Lithuania (1 523), Slovakia (1 480), Slovenia (1 465), Latvia (970), Cyprus (910), Malta (532) and Liechtenstein (83).

As of 16 May 2020, 154 590 deaths have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (33 998), Italy (31 610), France (27 529), Spain (27 459), Belgium (8 959), Germany (7 881), Netherlands (5 643), Sweden (3 646), Ireland (1 518), Portugal (1 190), Romania (1 056), Poland (907), Austria (628), Denmark (537), Hungary (448), Czechia (295), Finland (293), Norway (232), Greece (160), Luxembourg (104), Slovenia (103), Bulgaria (102), Croatia (95), Estonia (63), Lithuania (54), Slovakia (27), Latvia (19), Cyprus (17), Iceland (10), Malta (6) and Liechtenstein (1).

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