Record numbers translate to second highest Covid-19 rate in EU

Ritratt: Miguela Xuereb

Malta’s Covid-19 transmission rate is the third highest in the EU when counted last week, and the second highest when Tuesday – which saw Malta reporting a record 1,298 cases – is caught into account.

Malta has reported 5,889 cases of Covid-19 in the past 7 days, an average of 841 cases per day. Using the latest official estimates of Malta’s population – 516,100 people – the figures translate to a 7-day moving average of 163 cases per 100,000 population and 251.5 cases per 100,000 population on 12/28.

Using Covid-19 data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and population figures from Eurostat to compare these figures to the rest of the EU – the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has suspended its updates of data during the Christmas period – the 7-day average is exceeded only in Denmark (222.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) and Ireland (184.9).

And in a day when several other countries reported record numbers, boosted by transmission of the highly contagious Omicron variant, Tuesday’s proportion was only exceeded in France, of which 179,316 cases translate into a rate of 265, 9 cases per 100,000 people.

Malta’s record numbers on Tuesday – which, of course, translate to the cases identified on Monday – may, in part, reflect a lack of testing over a weekend that also included Christmas Day, as apparently evidenced by a considerable drop in numbers. Although the government stopped providing daily updates on the number of tests performed, there had been a significant downward trend in testing during the weekends.

However, the same phenomenon has clearly occurred in France, and in a more pronounced manner. In the second most populous country in the EU, the daily figures fell from more than 100,000 to less than 30,000 before being multiplied by six on Tuesday. Naturally, the 7-day moving average negates any impact of the weekend.

In the EU, the lowest rate of known cases of Covid-19 is reported in Romania, with a 7-day moving average of 3.72 per 100,000 and a Tuesday rate of 5.96 per 100,000. Despite a population of over 19 million, it has reported fewer cases than Malta last week. However, these low rates can be misleading to some extent: Romania also reports one of the lowest testing rates in the EU.

Malta, however, may itself find it difficult to meet demands for testing: sources who spoke to spoke of a system that is struggling to cope with the increase in numbers.

1 in 6 swab tests are positive

(2021 estimate)
reported on
rate / 100,0007 days
moving average
rate / 100,000
France67 439 599179,316265.8986,573128.37
Cyprus896,0052 241250.111,161129.53
Sweden10 379 29521,247204.714,42842.66
Greece10 682 54721,732203.438 79882.36
Ireland5,006,9079,006179.879 259184.92
Portugal10,298,25217 172166.759 95596.66
Italy59,257,56678,300132.1445 75377.21
Belgium11 566 0419 96586.166,48456.06
Slovenia2 108 9771,81385.971,12453.28
Luxembourg634 73048676.5742166.28
Czechia10 701 7776 88764.356,80863.62
Germany83 155 03130,99837.2822 85127.48
Austria8 932 6642,41627.052,08023.28
Poland37 840 0019,85026.0311,78031.13
Hungary9 730 772137014.082 32923.94
Romania19 186 2011,1445.967143.72
Source: JHU CSSE Covid-19 data
Eurostat demographic estimates

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