Do the booster doses leave an impact? – Charmaine Gauci

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Our Sicilian neighbors have just removed Spain and Portugal from the list of countries that require a swab test on arrival in addition to the certificate. They have extended this requirement for people traveling from Malta by three months. Why is this happening when we are in much better shape than Sicily and Spain? Can our authorities discuss this issue with the Sicilian authorities with the aim of reducing the frustration of Maltese tourists and Sicilians who work here? – Mario Genovese

To slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect health and well-being, travel restrictions were needed during the pandemic. Those who can travel may still be subject to health-related measures such as vaccination, testing and quarantine requirements in accordance with the country’s regulations.

European Member States regularly review the situation of other Member States in order to assess the risk to inbound travelers from these respective countries. As Malta has gradually had lower COVID case rates, lower positivity rates and even moved to green categorization according to ECDC criteria, we expect to have less restrictions for travelers from Malta. to other countries.

Does the recall have an impact on the situation? – Johann Grech

Israel began providing reminders to people over the age of 60 at the end of July. This had led to a drop in just two weeks among the 60+. They then gave everyone reminders, reaching the population of 12+ by the end of August (right).

A similar result was observed in Malta. Positive cases in those over 80 began to increase visibly in mid-August, and hospital admissions and deaths had indeed started to increase in early August. The booster vaccination started in early September and indeed within a week or two we have seen a drop in cases in the population aged 80 and over. This decrease is probably not only due to the booster vaccination, but is also aggravated by a decrease (albeit slower) in the incidence in other age groups as well.

That said, the 80+ age group has experienced a steeper decline in cases, effectively reaching the same incidence rate as for other age groups. This clearly shows the impact of the booster dose and the importance of maintaining a high level of immunity in the population.

How many recent cases have been in contact with a positive case? – Mariella Agius

Positive cases are investigated to identify the possible source, come into contact with a positive case and identify other contacts to control the chain of transmission. Based on an assessment of cases reported in August and September, 40 percent said they had come into contact with a positive case. This highlights the importance of preventive measures as many of the positive cases reported were unaware of actually being exposed or to whom.

All positive cases are isolated for a period of 14 days from the date of the positive test and contacts are quarantined for 14 days from the last exposure to avoid re-exposure to others. For vaccinated primary contacts, this period can be reduced to seven days if they are negative on the seventh day.

Digital proximity tracing apps, known as contact tracing apps, can lead to faster notification and identification of contacts who might not have known they were exposed and, therefore, complement classic contact search.

The local contact tracing application, COVID-Alert Malta, which is functional in many European Member States, can be downloaded from https://covidalert.gov.mt/. Anyone alerted to have been a contact of a positive case is invited to take a test.

The World Health Organization continues to stress that contact tracing, along with robust testing, isolation and management of cases, is an important strategy to interrupt the chains of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. It is essential to ensure the coverage of the population by vaccination and to reach the pockets of unvaccinated people.

In crowded environments – such as airplanes and restaurants – I have an idea that air conditioners are at high risk for transmitting COVID-19. Is this a misnomer? – Joseph Brincat

It should be noted that, in common spaces, the main risk of COVID-19 transmission lies in the movement of people, the proximity and sharing of common spaces such as toilets and elevators. Appropriate measures to generally reduce the risk of infection through respiratory and hand hygiene measures, personal protective measures, social distancing measures and cleaning and disinfection of frequently affected areas and environments are assumed.

Proper use of air conditioning and ventilation systems are important measures for reducing the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Multiple occupancy establishments and passing visitors must ensure regular maintenance of air conditioning and / or mechanical ventilation systems. Where the exchange of fresh air is possible, this should be encouraged.

When will the authorities decide whether the “general” population will need a booster dose? – Angela Grech

The European Medicines Authority concluded in a statement published on October 4 that booster doses with Comirnaty can be considered at least six months after the second dose for people aged 18 and over. They further state that “the implementation of vaccination campaigns in the EU remains the prerogative of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups guiding the vaccination campaigns in each EU Member State. These organizations are best placed to take into account local conditions, including the spread of the virus (especially any variant of concern), vaccine availability and the capacities of national health systems. “

Currently, various national health authorities, including Malta, are evaluating the available data to take into account the booster doses for different population groups and the time between the primary series and the administration of a booster dose.

Why is the positivity rate frequently cited? – Marie Camilleri

As with all infectious disease surveillance systems, it is not possible to know exactly how many people are infected with COVID-19. We can only know the cases that are tested. Therefore, testing is our visual on the progress of the pandemic and understanding of control.

The number of positive tests from the tests performed is known as the positivity rate. This examines how well a country is testing and helps us understand the spread of the virus as we continue to assess the impact of vaccination. The positivity rate is also an early predictor as an increasing positivity rate may suggest that the virus is spreading faster than the growth seen from confirmed cases.

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