Malta has suspended all passenger flights to Italy and the catamaran to Sicily with immediate effect as a precautionary measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Shipping of merchandise, food and medicine between the two countries will continue to ensure that the chain of supply to Malta continues as usual.
Prime Minister Robert Abela announced this decision shortly after his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte declared that Italy would extend its coronavirus quarantine measures to the entire country and that people would only be permitted to travel for work or family emergencies.
Abela said special arrangements will be made for Maltese people currently in Italy to return home as soon as possible.
“We will take all necessary measures, no matter how hard, to safeguard our people,” he said, before sending out a message to the people of Italy.
“You are our neighbours and friends and I know how close Italy is to the Maltese. I urge you to stay strong, let’s overcome this challenge. Forza e coraggio.“
Conte has said that Italy’s draconian measures will stay in place till 3rd April but Abela opted against providing a specific timeframe for how long Malta’s travel suspension will last, stating only that it will remain in place depending on developing circumstances.
This evening, Malta confirmed its fourth case of the COVID-19 coronavirus, with the patient identified as a foreign national who had just returned from Northern Italy. However, Abela didn’t give any details on this case, stating that Health Minister Chris Fearne will update the nation on it later on Tuesday.
He once again appealed for calm and tranquility to prevail in Malta.
“There’s no cause for any alarm. Malta is prepared for any eventuality and tomorrow will be a normal day of work and school.”