The number of active cases of Covid-19 has crept up once more today – to 621 – with 39 new cases recorded overnight.
18 new recoveries were reported over the past 24 hours, according to the latest bulletin issued by the health authorities.
A total of 2,632 swab tests were carried out in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number up to 226,330.
There have been 2,634 known cases of Covid-19 in Malta. While 1,996 patients have recovered, the pandemic has claimed 17 lives, with the latest death – of a 91-year-old woman – reported overnight.
In her weekly briefing, the Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said that 70% of Covid-19 cases were being linked to clusters: the remaining 30% were thus sporadic.
And with that final appeal, the briefing – and our live blog – is now over. Thank you for following.
With questions now over, the briefing is drawing to a close, with Gauci once more reminding the public of the importance of the contact tracing app in her closing remarks.
This, unfortunately, contributed to a rise in cases, and Gauci emphasises the need to educate the public on the need to limit contact.
"The virus won't recognise whether a person is your relative or not; it merely sees another host," she observes.
The Times' journalist asks on family clusters, with Gauci acknowledging that Maltese family culture played a role – since relatives often sought to meet up in social events.
The public health chief emphasises the importance of education. As for after-school activities – including catechism – she stresses the need to implement the same measures, including the use of bubbles.
She emphasises that visitors can only visit their loved ones behind perspex screens, and that now precautions were addressing carers.
This was why transmission could be widespread in elderly homes once a case is reported.
Gauci states that she will not discuss the situation in specific homes for the elderly, but notes that ultimately, since this was residents' home, they would be in contact with each other during the day.
He also asks whether the physical reopening of schools could be delayed by a couple of weeks, and whether the authorities were considering implementing fresh restrictions to keep the pandemic in check.
MaltaToday's correspondent questions what went wrong in homes for the elderly, whether it was due to staff or visitors not taking the necessary precautions.
But as colder weather arrives and more viruses start spreading once more, there was the need to be more careful.
Gauci replies that only around 5% of cases were reported among children, in line with international trends, and notes that it appeared that children were far less likely to develop complications.
He also asks about the resumption of catechism classes.
TVM's correspondent asks Gauci to elaborate on how children have been affected by Covid-19.
Gauci adds that the measures taken in homes reflect infection control procedures.
She highlights that just 5 new cases linked to homes for the elderly were reported overnight, and that in light of the many tests carried out, this was good news.
L-Orizzont's correspondent also asks on homes for the elderly, and questions whether positive cases should be moved out of the residence to minimise the risk of transmission.
The homes concerned are regularly visited by SPH staff, and at present, 8 people hailing from homes are hospitalised due to Covid-19.
One News' correspondent asks Gauci to elaborate on the condition of patients hailing from homes for the elderly.
Gauci also insists that while a public health emergency would allow for particular measures to be taken, no need for one was perceived at the moment.
As for sporadic cases, Gauci highlights that 70% of reported cases are linked to known clusters.
As for schools, Gauci reiterates that guidelines seek to mitigate risks, and that there were various means to implement them. Online learning could also be included among them.
There had been 35 in Lyster Barracks, 1 in Safi, and 37 in Marsa, but some have since recovered.
Gauci notes that there have been no new cases among asylum seekers in the past week, and the active cases among them is thus going down.
He also asks for more details on the latest Covid-19-related death, for her comment on proposals to start schools online and on the high number of sporadic cases.
NET News' correspondent asks for statistics on asylum seekers – which are not counted in official figures.
She emphasises that the local guidelines are in line with those of the World Health Organisation.
But she warns that zero-risk was impossible.
As for schools, Gauci emphasises the importance of limiting transmission of Covid-19 in the community, since this directly lessened the odds of transmission in schools.
Gauci emphasises the need for carers to wear – and remove – PPE properly, to limit contact among them, and to isolate any positive cases quickly.
With this in mind, the health authorities provided assistance to homes for the elderly once they started reporting outbreaks.
But a single breach in infection control procedures could open the floodgates in homes for the elderly.
One was a lockdown, with workers living in the residences for weeks at a time and no people moving in or out.
But others had no lockdown, with workers still going home. This model still proved to be effective, since infection control mechanisms and the use of personal protective equipment was in place.
She adds that initially, two models of operation were pursued by homes for the elderly.
Gauci reiterates that two people were presently at the ITU and on a ventilator, and that their condition was thus not stable.
She also brings up the concerns raised by the two unions representing teachers.
The Malta Independent's correspondent asks on precautions concerning workers at homes for the elderly.
Her English-language summary is now over, so it is now time for journalists' questions.
The briefing is in Maltese, but Gauci now provides an overview in English for the benefit of English speakers.
She appeals for a strong take-up of the app, noting that the more people use it, the more effective it can be.
The superintendent of public health emphasises that installation is simple: smartphone users can download the app through the App Store or Google Play – depending on their phone – as they would with every other app.
It works using Bluetooth, and anyone who tests positive to Covid-19 is invited to input a special code on the app. Once this is done, anyone they might have been in close contact with who also use the app would be alerted and invited to get tested.
She highlights that the app was completely anonymous, and did not identify positive cases or track users.
The app, as Gauci explains, logs cases where people – or their mobiles, at the least – are less than 2m apart for longer than 15 minutes.
Gauci observes that the app complements contact tracing efforts, particularly since people may not be able to recall everyone they were in contact with in recent days.
She reminds that just today, a contact tracing app – COVID Alert Malta – was launched. More information is available on covidalert.gov.mt.
Gauci now highlights the importance of contact tracing efforts, elaborating on the tireless work of the team tasked with carrying it out.
Gauci appeals to all those visiting elderly relatives in homes to take all precautions. They should skip visiting if they have taken any risks concerning Covid-19, she emphasises.
Random testing at the airport has been stepped up, and 11 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected as a result.
But the amber list, which consists of three countries – Czechia, Romania and Tunisia – three Spanish cities and two French ones remains unchanged this week.
The superintendent of public health now highlights the importance of limiting the importation of new cases from overseas, highlighting that the situation is continually monitored.
Gauci emphasises that standing events should not be held at this, and the importance of restricting social gatherings to no more than 15 people.
The average age of patients has been creeping up, and is now 50.6.
She had agreed, in a recent sitting of Parliament's Gozo Affairs Committee, to elaborate on the situation in Gozo to avoid the dissemination of incorrect information.
Gauci reveals that there are 20 positive cases of Covid-19 among Gozo residents.
She highlights that if groceries are to be delivered to their homes, they are to be dropped outside, to avoid more people entering the house and possibly contributing to the transmission of the pandemic.
Whenever possible, they should stick to their own bedroom – and bathroom – when they share a home with others. Where this is not possible, regular cleaning is important.
Gauci emphasises that it was crucial for positive cases to isolate themselves as much as possible.
She highlights the continued need for precautions at the office, including social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
But the number of cases linked to workplaces appears to be on the decrease, suggesting that measures seeking to limit transmission to colleagues were achieving the desired effect.
These included cases linked to family gatherings.
She also notes that a significant number of cases were family members of previously-known cases.
The health authorities have boosted testing in homes for the elderly in response, with Gauci noting that retesting at the St Joseph Home in Fgura is now taking place every three days.
At present, some 117 cases have been linked to homes for the elderly, among residents and staff alike.
She highlights that while earlier in the summer, clusters were being reported linked to places of entertainment, clusters were now being linked to homes for the elderly.
This, she states, echoed trends recorded in other European countries.
Gauci highlights that the number of active cases is on the increase. After a peak in cases earlier this summer and a subsequent slow drop , a new peak was now evident.
Charmaine Gauci starts by confirming the latest death linked to the pandemic, and offers her condolences to the woman's loved ones.
And we're live.