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18 Mar 2020 | 06:57 AM UTC

Malta: Malta bans inbound flights effective March 21 /update 4

Government bans inbound flights effective March 21 due to COVID-19; confirm travel itineraries

entry/exit
health
transportation
MLT

Event

Authorities announced on Wednesday, March 18, that all incoming flights will be suspended effective Saturday, March 21, to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It remains unclear how long the restriction will last. The ban will not apply to cargo, humanitarian, and repatriation flights.

Prime Minister Robert Abela previously announced on Friday, March 13, that all arrivals from all countries will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. Abela said that police will carry out spot checks to guarantee that quarantine measures are being observed, with a fine of EUR 1000 for offenders.

Abela also announced a ban on all air and sea travel to and from Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy On Tuesday, March 10. On Tuesday, March 12, a ban on outdoor events of more than 2000 people and indoor events of more than 750 people was imposed.

As of March 18, some 38 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the country along with two recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.