Malta closes night spots again as virus cases surge

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 18 2020 07:17 AM

Malta closes night spots again as virus cases surge 1
Photo by Sebastian Ervi from Pexels

VALLETTA - Malta will close its bars and night clubs once again after a surge in coronavirus cases in the Mediterranean island state, Health Minister Chris Fearne said Monday.

The measure, to take effect on Wednesday will also concern sports facilities and social clubs, said Fearne, who is also deputy prime minister. 

Mass gatherings in public have been restricted to 15 people, while restaurants and shops have been allowed to remain open.

Health superintendent Charmaine Gauci said the new "more controlling" measures are aimed at ensuring social distancing.

Coronavirus cases have been rising steadily in Malta, seen some months ago as a European success story for its handling of the pandemic. 

It currently counts 607 active cases of COVID-19 – almost double the peaks it saw in March and April. 

The surge, which began nearly a month ago, has been traced to a weekend-long party at a hotel and a traditional village religious feast.

Malta has recorded a total of 1,375 infections since March 7, when the first case was detected in the EU member state. 

Of those, 759 have recovered and nine have died. 

Two people are currently receiving treatment in intensive care. 

Meanwhile, Fearne also announced that Malta will introduce a new “amber travel list” of countries whose nationals must present a certificate showing a negative COVID-19 swab test from the previous 72 hours before being allowed entry. 

The stricter measures were greeted with cautious optimism, with the country’s doctors union backing down from potential industrial action over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

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