Malta marks a week without new coronavirus cases

FILE PHOTO: People walk along the coastline after government restrictions were eased amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Pembroke, Malta May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Malta marked a week without new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the first since the virus was detected there for the first time on March 7.

Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed in a tweet that no new cases had been detected for a week. The last was a single case on July 9.

“We must continue to be prudent to maintain our success,” he said.

Malta saw 674 cases and nine deaths in almost four months but now only has four active cases of the virus, the rest having recovered. The Mediterranean island has benefited from its small size by employing a high rate of testing – with some 20% of the population tested - and contact tracing.

Its economy, however, has been hit hard by the closure of the airport, with tourism accounting for a third of GDP. Flights resumed on July 1 and services were extended on Wednesday to 50 countries.

Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Alexandra Hudson