All patients in the hospital were screened for covid yesterday and will be again today after a number of individuals on a particular ward tested positive.
Deputy Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, explained the protocol at a media briefing yesterday evening after new statistics showed that there were eight individuals in hospital with the virus – six of which were already there and receiving treatment for other conditions.
In response to the rising numbers, the hospital also closed to most visitors yesterday at 17:00.
Only the Maternity Unit, Paediatrics and the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) will remain open for visitors, with strict PPE measures in place. Special measures are also being drawn up for those receiving end-of-life care.
Pictured: Special arrangements will be made for individuals receiving end-of-life care.
Asked by Express whether a gap in existing hygiene protocols that led individuals to be infected with covid while in hospital had been identified, the Health Minister responded: “There wasn’t a gap in the protocols.
“We need to understand that, whatever the best measures that you can put in place are not necessarily fail-safe, there are always risks, and I think that’s what has occurred here.
“All the right measures were taken but covid is pervasive and can still penetrate.”
Dr Muscat added: “We are looking at how covid could have got to these patients to learn from that and obviously avoid it in the future. It’s entirely possible that we will not work out exactly how it got in despite infection control measures being adhered to on that ward over the relevant period.
“We have established that appropriate infection control procedures were adhered to, so there is no evident gap in that defence system.”
Video: The Health Minister and Dr Muscat responded to questions about infection control protocols in the hospital from Express at last night's media briefing.
He continued: “But, as the Minister said, no single defence system is sufficient – we need to build up as many barriers to covid as we possibly can to try and prevent it penetrating through.
“And, as part of the reaction to the presence of covid in a particular ward we have today screened all patients in the hospital and will tomorrow screen them again because of the incubation period.
“Going forward, the intention – if the plan works out in exactly the way we want it to – is to screen patients in the hospital on a two-weekly basis as we go forward, and staff on a two-weekly basis as well.
“We will not get there overnight, we will get there one step at a time, but we hope that in the next one to two weeks we should be able to achieve this. This is not to supplant the excellent PCR workforce screening that is being undertaken by other teams within the covid response unit but complement that system to make it as robust as possible.”
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