Malta recorded its first coronavirus victim Wednesday, after a 92-year old woman with underlying health issues died, the deputy prime minister said.
“Unfortunately, this will not be the first and last death. We can see what is happening across the world and Malta is no exception,” Chris Fearne told a press conference, urging people to respect social distancing rules.
The woman had been living in an old people’s home in Gozo, according to Maltese media reports.
The Mediterranean island has recorded 299 infected people since its first case on March 7.
“We have to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. The coming weekend is normally an occasion for families to meet at home to celebrate Easter, but I ask you this year, to forego these celebrations,” Fearne said.
Meanwhile, France reported 541 more deaths from COVID-19 in hospitals over the last 24 hours, bringing its total official toll from the coronavirus epidemic to 10,869.
Top health official Jerome Salomon told reporters that there were now 7,148 people in intensive care, a net increase of 17 from the day earlier, the lowest increase recorded in recent weeks.
He said that due to a technical fault there was no daily data available Wednesday from nursing homes, meaning that the overall death toll is likely incomplete.
The death toll from hospitals was slightly lower than the comparable number from the day earlier, which was 597.
France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic, with only essential trips allowed that must be justified with a signed piece of paper.
Salomon said that had been slowing the increase of the virus’ spread over recent days, adding this was because the lockdown was being largely observed.
“The slowing seen over the last days is linked to your good respect of the confinement rules,” he said.
He expressed hope that France would see a flattening in its curve of cases in coming days but emphasised that this “plateau is at a very high level”.