Latest news, important information & links – Updated on 06-05-2020
If you wish to contact the public health authorities on issues regarding quarantine, please send an email to [email protected]
If you are presently under quarantine and need help to get food or medicines, please call on 21 411 411.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are viruses which cause respiratory symptoms ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). They are a family of viruses which are present both in humans and in animals. They are spread from one person to another through:
- Coughing and sneezing (via droplets)
- Hands which have become contaminated with the virus after touching contaminated surfaces or
- Through direct contact with a person infected with the coronavirus (such as caring for a sick person)
What are the symptoms?
From the information known to date, the common symptoms are one or more of the below:
- Shortness of breath.
Other symptoms may include:
2. Sore throat
3. Runny / blocked nose
5. Muscle pain
6. Loss of smell
7. Loss of taste
8. Diarrhoea or vomiting
What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you have any of the above symptoms call the PublicHealth helpline on 111. If you have symptoms of respiratory illness like cough, contact your GP or Health Centre.
If you have severe symptoms such as severe shortness of breath, call 112 immediately.
How severe is the infection?
It is generally mild, especially for children and young people, but may also result in requirement of medical care and hospitalisation. In some cases the infection can cause severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome that can lead to death.
How long does it take for symptoms to develop?
The incubation period, time between contamination and the appearance of the first symptoms can take between 2 to 14 days.
How is COVID-19 coronavirus spread?
The COVID-19 infection is transmitted by people carrying the virus. The disease can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets expelled from the nose or mouth when a person coughs or sneezes.These droplets can persist for a few hours on objects or surfaces around the person in question. An infection with COVID-19 can occur if you touch these objects or surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. COVID-19 can also be contracted by inhaling droplets from a sick person who has just coughed or sneezed. This is why it is important to keep a distance of more than two meters from a sick person and to respect basic hygiene measures.
Is there treatment or a vaccine?
No specific treatment exists. Treatment given by a medical doctor is to control the symptoms.
There are currently no vaccines against coronaviruses, including 2019-nCoV. Therefore, it is very important to prevent infection or contain further spread of an infection.
Who is at higher risk ?
Though no one is immune , older adults are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID 19. In addition, anyone with an underlying medical condition, regardless of their age, faces increased risk of serious illness.
Vulnerable groups must stay at home & cannot go to work. These include:
✔️Elderly over 65 years
✔️Insulin dependent diabetics
✔️Those Taking Biologicals (medicines for long-term medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis)
✔️Patients with cancer and who have undergone chemotherapy in the last 6 months
✔️Patients who are immunosuppressed including those who had a transplant and those with HIV
✔️Patients undergoing dialysis
✔️Patients with Respiratory problems (have been hospitalized in the last 1 year)
✔️Patients with Cardiac problems and had interventions in the last 6 months
✔️Patients who attend the Heart failure clinic
✔️Patients on Oral steroids
These persons are allowed to go out ONLY for essential things like to get groceries and medicine. Outings and contact with others should be limited as much as possible.Persons who fall within the above categories and who have not received a letter notifying that they should stay in or think the suffer from a medical condition which merits being considered as vulnerable, should send an email to [email protected] with their Name, ID, Condition, Medication and scanned copy of their Schedule V card (yellow card).
When should a person get tested?
Any person who has any of the above-listed symptoms would need to undergo a swab test.
I believe I have been in contact with someone who has the virus, does this mean I need to be tested?
Public health authorities follow contact tracing procedures to identify and contact all possible close contacts. A risk assessment is done for each contact according to type and duration of contact; each case is different.It is important to note that swab testing is unreliable if you do not have symptoms.
How do I book an appointment?
Swab tests are done at the testing centres ONLY by appointment.
To book your swab test call the Public Health Helpline on 111 or +356 21324086 if you have a foreign number. The operators will take note of your personal details and you will be given an appointment to undergo this test closest to your place of residence.
There are 4 testing centres, one at Pembroke, one at Luqa, one at Mater Dei Hospital (for health care professionals) and one in Xewkija, Gozo.
You will receive an email confirming your appointment date, time and location.
What Instructions do I need to follow when attending at the Testing Centre?
When attending for your swab test, it is important that you use your own private car of motorcycle. If you are being driven, you should sit on the posterior passenger side, using a face mask if you have one, with the windows open. If you are unable to attend using your own transport, other arrangements will be made. Please point this out whilst calling the helpline. Please note that you CANNOT attend for the swab test using a taxi, bus or any car-sharing option. Take a clean tissue and your ID card as proof of identification
What does the test involve?
The test involves inserting a nasal swab (a long cotton bud) in through your nasal opening and obtaining a sample of the nasopharyngeal secretions from the back of your nose and throat. This tests lasts a few seconds and may be uncomfortable however the discomfort is over within a short time. You can drive home right after the test is taken. It is important that you drive immediately home and do not stop to run any errands on the way. You and your household members are to remain strictly at home until the swab result is out. You are to remain home until 24 hours after your symptoms subside. If you have been informed that you are in mandatory quarantine, you are to remain indoors as instructed by the Public Health Authorities.
When will I be notified of my results?
Public Health provides results by email, SMS or a landline phone call within 72 hours, when accurate contact data is provided. If any of the data provided to Public Health is inaccurate, the result may not arrive. If 72 hours elapse and you have not received the result, you may send an email to [email protected] or, if you don’t have an email address, call 111.
The results are also being released to patients through the myHealth portal. All Maltese citizens and residents aged 14+ can access myHealth by going to www.myhealth.gov.mt and logging in using their ID card number (or residence permit number) and their e-ID password. Persons who had an e-ID password but need a new one, and persons who have never had an e-ID password will find helpful links after clicking on ‘Log in with your e-ID’. Access to records of children aged below 14 is only possible for doctors linked to the children through myHealth. Queries related to myHealth may be sent to [email protected].
If your symptoms get worse please call your family doctor or Primary Care on 21222444
In the event of a positive swab result, where the virus responsible for COVID-19 is detected, the person will be contacted and instructed by Public Health accordingly.
How do I protect myself and others from coronavirus ?
1. STAY AT HOME, avoid going out unnecessarily, avoid all kinds of social gatherings, maintain a distance of 2 metres from others.
2. CLEAN: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and if not available, use alcohol- based hand disinfectant.
3. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or inner side of flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
4. DO NOT sneeze or cough into your hands as you may contaminate objects or people that you touch.
5. Dispose of used tissues immediately in lined and closed bins; DO NOT leave tissues running around.
6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth before washing your hands.
7. Keep a minimum of two metre distance when talking to someone who is sick.
8. Avoid all handshakes
9. If you are sick (with any illness) STAY AT HOME, even if your symptoms are mild.
10. If you are in quarantine, respect the quarantine order and the advice of Public Health Authorities.
11. If you are elderly or vulnerable, stay at home. If you have elderly or vulnerable relatives, don’t visit them. Instead offer them support by taking groceries to them or other necessities or helping them to organise deliveries.
12. Follow guidance from health authorities. Keep up to date and refer to reliable sources of information. Avoid spreading misinformation and ‘fake news’ which only serves to cause panic and create further challenges for healthcare services.
Am I protected from Coronavirus if I had the influenza vaccine this year?
No, COVID-19 and Influenza are two different viruses, and thus the influenza vaccine would not protect you from the coronavirus.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing, also called physical distancing, refers to actions taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough physical distance (a minimum of two metres) between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. It is possible to safely maintain social connections while social distancing, through phone calls, video chats and social media platforms
Those found to be in a group of more than three and are not members of the same household shall be liable to a €100 fine.
Frequently Asked Questions :
Should I wear facemasks?
With the lifting of certain restrictive public health measures instituted as part of the COVID19 Public Health Response, the Public Health Authorities are advising on the benefits of wearing a face mask or visor by individuals who are not ill, when entering closed spaces. Customers and staff in retail outlets and on public transport are required to wear a mask or a visor. Visors can be worn alone or together with a mask. Persons visiting banks are advised to wear a visor, since masks are not be permitted for security reasons. It is the responsibility of employers to provide appropriate masks or visors for their workers. The use of face masks helps reduce the spread of infection in the community by limiting the spread of infection from infected individuals who may not know they are infected, who have not yet developed symptoms or who remain asymptomatic. The wearing of masks will therefore enhance the effects of physical distancing. It is important to note that face covers are not meant to be a replacement for physical distancing; observing cough and sneeze etiquette; maintaining meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching one’s face.
Can I be contaminated by receiving a package from an affected area?People receiving packages from affected areas are not at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters or packages.
Can the illness be spread through coins and banknotes?
No studies confirm or disprove the possibility of the virus being transmitted though handling coins and banknotes. It is vital to wash your hands regularly and properly after handling any frequently-touched surface or object, such as coins or banknotes.
How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
Evidence suggests that the virus may last on surfaces from a few hours to a few days, depending on different conditions. If you think a surface might be contaminated, clean it with simple disinfectant.
Taking care of your mental health
Take care of your mental health as the current situation can provoke anxiety or distress. Help is available 24/7. Call 1770 helpline for support of emotional and mental wellbeing.
- Follow regular schedules for waking up, dressing, eating, exercising, working, entertainment and going to sleep
- Establish objectives for each day as well for the whole week
- Limit caffeine intake
- Keep your mind active; reading, writing, playing an instrument and playing board games
- Sit outside in your balcony, yard, roof, garden or near a window to enjoy daylight and sunshine
- Keep your self-informed but limit the time spent focussing on covid19 related information
- Stay in contact with family, friends and colleagues
For further information please refer to the mental well being guidance.