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Could sun holidays to Malta be off after jump in Covid cases?

'Safe' island at risk after 65 rescued refugees test positive

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Passengers wearing face masks at Dublin Airport yesterday

Passengers wearing face masks at Dublin Airport yesterday

Colin Keegan

Passengers wearing face masks at Dublin Airport yesterday

Malta is at risk of being dropped from the green list of 15 countries deemed safe for Irish holidaymakers after a rise in the island's Covid-19 infection rate.

The Mediterranean holiday destination's 14-day rate was 6.9 cases per 100,000 people yesterday, compared with 5.3 for Ireland.

The Government's green list means Irish tourists can visit certain countries and not have to quarantine on their return.

It is to be reviewed every two weeks.

At least 65 migrants in a group of 94 people rescued at sea and taken to Malta on Monday tested positive for the virus.

It was the single biggest cluster of positive cases detected on the island since the first case came to light on March 7.

The Irish Government is unlikely to include regions in Spain that have low levels of Covid-19 on its green list.

Spain is excluded because of its national rate of 49.2 per 100,000.

The Spanish government has urged Ireland to include Majorca, Ibiza and the Canary Islands on the green list due to lower rates of the virus.

It comes as no new deaths were reported here yesterday

Of the 14 additional people diagnosed with the virus, several showed no symptoms.

They only found out they were positive after being alerted and told they had been in contact with a confirmed case.

"Eleven of the cases were close contacts of confirmed cases and half of these had no symptoms," acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said.

"If you are concerned that you have been in contact with a confirmed case, please come forward for testing. Do not wait for symptoms to emerge.

Accelerating

"There are now eight confirmed cases of Covid-19 in our hospital system, the lowest number since early March.

"However, across Europe the pandemic appears to be accelerating once again.

"We have an opportunity to avoid a similar scenario here.

"We must take it by focusing once again on keeping our distance, washing our hands, wearing face coverings and continuing to make safe decisions that will protect ourselves, our friends, our families. No one is safe unless everyone is safe."

More than 100 people have been warned they have come into close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case through the tracing app.

Nearly 1.45 million people have downloaded the app since it went live in recent weeks.

Public health chiefs say it plays a vital part in Ireland's fight against the coronavirus.

Senior civil servant Liz Canavan, of the Department of the Taoiseach, described the app as a "very important enhancement" to the tracing service, but she did not say how many of the close contacts had also tested positive or if any had been tested.

"If you've been in close contact with someone who tests positive for Covid, the app sends you a close contact alert," she said.

"If you provide your phone number, the HSE will then contact you to give you advice and refer you for testing if that's appropriate."

Children

A working group has been set up to examine what kind of tests for Covid-19 are available for children this winter.

The HSE is looking at alternatives to taking a sample via an uncomfortable nasal swab.

"The HSE has established a working group to guide our approach to testing children for coronavirus in the coming winter," a spokeswoman said.

"The Health Information and Quality Authority is also reviewing a range of options.

"We are expecting guidance from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control that will inform our knowledge of Covid-19 in children."