Two official Covid-19 lists show significant discrepancies – reports; Ministry explains

Updated 09:11 PM
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Health authorities have been keeping two separate lists of Covid-19 patients and there is a discrepancy of more than 200 cases between them, the Sunday Times of Malta has revealed.

The government’s list is kept on a specialised database, known as the Patient Administration System. But a separate list is kept by Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci, and this list – which is the source of the daily Covid-19 bulletins – featured 241 additional patients on Friday.

The discrepancy may have led to cases where the publicly-announced Covid-19 figures may not have reflected the true situation in Malta.

Officials have been working to reconcile the two lists, and the ones quoted by the Times suggested that the list stored on the PAS would likely be the more accurate one, since it was an automated and fully-audited system on which to store patient data.

Gauci’s list, on the other hand, appears to be stored on a spreadsheet which is shared among her trusted colleagues. The spreadsheet is based on a system established by the World Health Organisation.

The quoted officials did not elaborate on how long the discrepancy has existed, though the Times quoted sources who said that on Saturday, health officials were asked to speed up efforts to address it.

The Ministry for Health explains 

According to the Ministry for Health the national database used for COVID-19 is Go.Data, which is a system specifically created by WHO for the management of epidemics.  It was originally used for the control of Ebola outbreaks in Africa and then developed further for the management of COVID-19.   The Ministry’s spokesperson added that a dataset of active cases is also stored as an Excel sheet that is shared between the follow up team and the quarantine team in order to perform the inspections for those who are in isolation in their homes.

She added that Mater Dei has a patient administration system (CPAS) that allows for the flagging of certain conditions with a view to facilitating prevention from cross transmission upon admission. COVID-19 is naturally one of these infections. 

In the case of COVID-19, the Mater Dei CPAS flagging system, cannot be seen in isolation as it is complementary to a number of other systems which aid in the safe management of COVID positive patients upon admission. A positive COVID-19 patient is unflagged from CPAS after  3  months  in order to ensure that patients coming  to casualty who were positive and may present with known sequalae of COVID-19 will be picked up.

Hence, the spokesperson explained, the number of active cases on the Go.Data is not the same as that on CPAS flagging.

According to the latest bulletin, issued this afternoon, 35 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight, while 33 patients have made a recovery. The reported number of active cases is 668.