Coronavirus: Malta closes borders to unvaccinated travellers

Tourists walk out of the arrivals terminal after arriving at Malta International Airport on June 1, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

VALLETTA (AFP) - Malta said on Friday (July 9) it was becoming the first European country to close its borders to anyone who has not been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Health minister Chris Fearne said the measure would come into force on July 14, adding: "We will be the first country in Europe to take this step."

Malta has been hailed as a European success story for its vaccination campaign against coronavirus, with 79 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated.

But from reporting no new cases and having just 28 active cases on June 27, the Mediterranean island nation on Friday reported 96 new cases of the virus, taking the total number of active cases up to 252.

"From Wednesday 14 July, anyone coming to Malta must be in possession of a recognised vaccination certificate: a Maltese certificate, a British certificate, or a European Union certificate," Fearne told reporters.

He said that around 90 per cent of the cases being found are among unvaccinated people, and that many have been traced to English Language Schools.

Cases have been found at nine schools so far, and as a result, all English Language Schools will have to shut their doors from July 14.

The Maltese government recently had launched a financial incentive scheme to attract language students to the country from abroad.

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