Over 250 positive patients used COVID-19 smartphone app – Times of Malta

More than 250 COVID-19 patients made life easier for contact tracing personnel as they had downloaded the contact tracing app.

The app, launched in September, gathers information on a person’s proximity and if a user tests positive for the virus alerts are sent out to those who could have spent more than 15 minutes near an infected person.

So far, 253 people who had downloaded the app tested positive for the virus, the health authorities confirmed.

Alerts were sent out to hundreds of other users who were in close contact and who called the national COVID-19 helpline to get tested.

Since the launching, 81,465 people downloaded the app, about 16.9% of the population aged over 13, the age for digital consent.

The authorities have been urging the public to download the app as part of efforts to step up contact tracing. In recent weeks, people have reported the contact tracing team took days to contact them even though they were in direct contact with a positive case.

Times of Malta readers have expressed concern that although some may make the responsible decision of going into quarantine even before the health authorities get in touch others might not be as cautious and remain in the community even though they might be infected.

“I met someone who got tested the next day and the result came back positive. Five days later, I have yet to hear from the contact tracing team. I’m in quarantine, just in case, but how many others in this situation actually do this?” one reader wondered.

The Superintendent of Public Health, Charmaine Gauci, has appealed for people to stay home if they learn they might have encountered an infected person.

This, she said, would not only help speed up the process of contact tracing but minimise the risk of more spread.

A group of over 900 people who were left without a job because of the recent closure of bars have been roped in to beef up the contact tracing team.

As Malta continues to detect three-digit new cases every day, spikes were also registered across Europe.

As of Tuesday morning, Malta’s rate of cases per 100,000 stood at 337.5, the 21st highest in Europe, according to a daily report drawn up by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

As for deaths per 100,000 people, Malta registered a rate of 5.7, ranking 15th highest in Europe.

By Tuesday morning, the health authorities reported that the coronavirus had claimed 81 victims in Malta.

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