Neighbouring countries are reporting new outbreaks of COVID-19 among citizens who recently returned from visiting Malta, as leaders in those countries increasingly voice criticism of how Maltese officials have responded to the pandemic.
A cluster of 32 new reported cases of COVID-19 overnight in Sicily has begun to worry the authorities in Palermo. Malta is believed to be the origin of one of the main clusters from these newly registered cases.
Italian newspaper La Repubblika is quoting the mayor of Canicattini Bagni, Marilena Miceli, after her city registered an increase in COVID-19 cases, saying that most of those infected had travelled to Malta. “They would have gone to clubs and bars. Looking at the images online, it doesn’t look like there’s much control in Malta.”
“That there’s a problem in Malta is confirmed by the news that a cluster emerged from Paceville, an area with a high density of pubs, clubs and restaurants. Every day, new cases emerge from this same cluster,” Miceli said.
The virus has since spread from Puglia to Trentino and Catania.
Currently, Malta has a record number of 440 active cases. The Italian newspaper spells things out clearly, noting that Malta has the fourth highest number of cases in the EU per 100,000 people. Only Luxembourg, Spain and Belgium have a higher number of patients.
Meanwhile, Spain is also experiencing the impact of Malta’s increasing numbers. Five friends from the city of Salamanca have tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return from Malta, La Gaceta reports, and are currently in quarantine.
As the number of daily cases increases to double digits, the list of countries which are considering removing Malta from their travel green lists is growing. Additionally, Italy, a country which was devastated by the pandemic, is considering mandatory COVID-19 testing for tourists arriving from several countries, including Malta.
Further, it was announced on Tuesday that Slovenia became the latest country to remove Malta from its travel green list.
The news comes after Malta was deemed unsafe for travel by other countries, including Latvia and Ireland. America’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention also marked Malta as presenting a “high risk”, urging its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the island.