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Countries block travel from Malta despite Prime Minister’s reassurance

Sanitisation of public spaces in Malta. Photo: DOI

Bulgaria is the second country in the span of a week to list Malta as a European country with one of the biggest outbreaks of coronavirus and has refused to lift a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone from Malta travelling into the country.

In a list of measures announced by Bulgarian Health Minister Kiril Ananiev on Friday, people can now freely travel to the country, with the exception of those coming from Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, as well as the UK.

Travellers from these eight countries have to spend 14-days in quarantine because “the epidemic situation is still serious“.

On Sunday, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela announced the lifting of restrictions related to the pandemic, saying “coronavirus is behind us”. The decision was criticised by medical professionals, the police force and the public.

Bulgaria is the second country to raise questions about Malta’s safety with regards to the virus after Latvian health authorities issued a recommendation against travelling to Malta and another five countries, according to an article in the Brussels Times.

Malta was listed as the sixth least safe European country to travel to by the Latvian Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (SKPC).

Malta listed sixth as not recommended for travel on the SKPC’s list.

The data presented by the Latvian authorities is based on the infection rate of the countries, with the limit being set at 25 per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of 14 days.

Malta ranked 6th with a cumulative incidence of 25.6, obtaining worse results than Italy and Spain, which experienced some of the highest rates of COVID-related cases and deaths globally.

The SKPC said the data would continue evolving and it would be updated according to the developments in each country.

So far, Malta had 618 cases and nine deaths. 

Two months ago, Malta was mentioned by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) as one of seven European countries that registered a higher mortality rate than expected at the end of March for people aged 65 and over, despite the low number of deaths or mortality rates registered related to coronavirus.

Robert Abela

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