High Covid-19 testing rates translate to low positivity rates in Malta

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Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

As a proportion of the population, Malta is one of the top testers for Covid-19 in the EU, and this helps ensure that the positivity rate – the proportion of tested individuals who test positive for Covid-19 – is one of the lowest.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issues weekly statistics on Covid-19 testing in 30 European countries – the entire EU, the UK, Iceland and Norway.

According to the latest figures, Malta tested 4.5% of its entire population in the space of a week, a rate only surpassed by Denmark (8.4%) and Luxembourg (11%). At the other end of the scale are Bulgaria (0.87%), Poland (0.94%) and Slovakia (1.1%): the European average stands at 2.1%.

The figures show a clear correlation between the testing rate and the positivity rate – the more tests are carried out, the lower the proportion of positive tests.

Consequently, Malta boasts one of the lowest positivity rates at 3.97%, a rate bested in just four EU member states, Norway and Iceland. The rate is also far lower than that among the 30 countries surveyed by the ECDC, which stands at 13%.

47.7% of tests carried out in Poland were positive, followed by 37.9% in Bulgaria and 29.7% in Croatia. Such figures suggest that not enough testing is being carried out in the community, and may possibly indicate that the actual number of Covid-19 cases is much higher than reported.

Health Minister Chris Fearne welcomed the statistics, sharing a graph of ECDC figures whilst emphasising the need to “keep testing.”