- From 16 August seating-capacity for outdoor events to increase to 300 and 500 from end of August
- Vaccinated people in contact with COVID-19 cases to quarantine for seven days instead of 14
Maltese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Dr Chris Fearne said the Delta variant, which originated in India, is still dominating the situation around the world during a press conference held today.
In the last 24 hours, 78 new COVID-19 cases were registered. The island now has 1,200 active cases.
95% of the cases reported in the last week are due to the Delta variant. The rest are linked to the Gamma variant.
Fearne explained that the most people being adversely affected by COVID-19 are those who have not received the vaccine. Three out of four in ITU are not vaccinated, including one pregnant woman, and the other is a person with an immunosuppressive condition.
Fearne said 86% of the population is now fully vaccinated.
More COVID-19 restrictions lifted
Fearne said that from 16 August, the capacity for outdoor seated events would increase from 200 to 300.
“This can always be done if they comply with other restrictions, including the use of the mask and social distance,” Fearne said.
Then from 30 August, the capacity for outdoor seated events would further increase to 500. All those who attend have to be vaccinated.
Fearne said, for the time being, standing events remain off-limits.
Fearne also announced that from 16 August, vaccinated people in contact with COVID-19 cases can quarantine for seven days instead of 14.
Anyone who tests positive will still have to quarantine for 14 days, Fearne added.
Fearne has advised that pregnant women who are in their second and third trimester should take the COVID-19 vaccine unless their doctor has told them otherwise.
Fearne said this was a clear example of how data on vaccines has evolved.
“Initially, we did not have any evidence, and so the advice was to avoid taking the vaccine. Now, it seems that the risks of not getting vaccinated are higher than if you take it,” Fearne explained.
Fearne said that currently, the health authorities are studying the level of immunity within the community.
The health minister said that because of new variants emerging in mid-September, there are plans for an additional booster dose to be given to those in elderly care homes and people who are immunocompromised.
Getting COVID after taking the vaccine
Regarding vaccinated people who still got COVID-19, Superintendent of Public Health Prof Charmaine Gauci said that no vaccine was 100% effective but that the efficacy was still high and has stood the test of time.
Highlight of new measures:
- Vaccinated people in contact with COVID-19 cases only have to quarantine for seven days.
- Outdoor seated events capacity to increase to 300 from 16 August.
- Pregnant women are encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Additional COVID-19 vaccine booster planned for September for elderly care homes and those immunocompromised.
- Standing events are off-limits for time being.