Watch: Malta suspends flights and sea trips to and from Italy

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

In a late night press conference, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that Malta has suspended flights and sea trip to and from Italy in view of the recent total lockdown announced by the neighboring country earlier on Monday evening.

“In view of this, the Maltese Government has taken a decision with immediate effect to halt all flights to and from Italy,” Abela said. He explained that the catamaran service will be only authorised to transport goods between the two countries.

The emergency announcement was made at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday at midnight. “This decision comes immediately into effect,” the Prime Minister said. On Monday, Italy announced that it extended the lockdown to all the country effectively placing 60 million people under quarantine.

The government said that the decision will remain in effect until further notice and will depend on the circumstances.

A cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning will continue discussing the situation, Abela said.

Travel arrangements for Maltese nationals in Italy

Abela said that the government was aware that some Maltese nationals were caught in Italy. Without divulging any figures of the affected individuals, Abela said that more details will be given out following the scheduled cabinet meeting. The necessary arrangements will be made to bring the nationals back to the island ‘as soon as possible’.

“We will continue to take the necessary measures in order to safeguard the health of our people,” Abela said.

The Maltese government showed its solidarity with Italy.

Abela again appealed for calm and against panic. He said that everything remains the same and that tomorrow is a “normal working day”.

Cruise liner will not be allowed to dock

Fielding questions from the media, Abela said that a cruise liner which left from Sicily and was scheduled to stop in Malta on Tuesday morning, will not be allowed to dock. The cruise liner is carrying 2,600 people. Instructions have already been issued to the cruise liner.

Abela did not exclude tougher measures if self-quarantine does not work.

International helpline launched

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs launched an international helpline. In a statement, the Ministry urged Maltese nationals to follow instructions given by local authorities as well as by the host country if they are abroad.

Maltese nationals abroad can contact the ministry directly on 00356 2204 2200 or via email sitcen.mfea@gov.mt.

The Ministry said that it is in close contact with all its missions abroad as well as its European counterparts. Maltese diplomatic and consular missions will be assisting Maltese nationals in affected countries.

Italy under lockdown

On Monday, Italy announced that the country is under total lockdown while the fourth patient tested positive for coronavirus in Malta.

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On Saturday, a 12-year-old girl and her parents tested positive to the case. The family had been on a trip to Italy and returned to Malta earlier last week. They had went under self-quarantine until the girl developed symptoms associated with coronavirus. It was later confirmed that the three members of the family were confirmed that they had been infected with coronavirus.

The latest case involves a foreign national residing in Malta who travelled to Northern Italy. Abela said that Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne will be updating the public on the fourth case in a press briefing scheduled for Tuesday morning.