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Malta claims to be first EU country to achieve herd immunity against coronavirus

Rosy Huong Rosy Huong

huongthhd@gmail.com

May 26, 2021 | 09:36

Malta claims it has become the first country in the European Union to achieve herd immunity.

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Malta claims to be first EU country to achieve herd immunity against coronavirus
On May 24, restrictions on gyms and swimming pools in Malta were lifted, while the opening hours of restaurants were extended to midnight. They previously had to close at 5 p.m. Photo: Reuters

Malta has vaccinated 70% of its adult population with at least one Covid-19 shot, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on May 24.

The tiny Mediterranean island has had an average of three new virus cases each day in the past week, with the test positivity rate at a low of 0.2%. Two new cases were reported on May 24, Reuters said.

"Vaccines are being administered at a rate of one every five seconds," Fearne told a news conference. "Forty-two percent of the adult population has received two doses."

Vaccination is currently open to all residents of Malta over the age of 16 and Fearne said children aged 12 and over would also be inoculated once European medical authorities give the go-ahead.

Malta claims to be first EU country to achieve herd immunity against coronavirus
The health authorities had earlier announced that mask-wearing would no longer be necessary on beaches from June 1. Photo: Reuters

He also announced that mandatory wearing of masks outdoors would be lifted on July 1 for vaccinated people as long as virus cases remain low.

The health authorities had earlier announced that mask-wearing would no longer be necessary on beaches from June 1.

On May 24, restrictions on gyms and swimming pools were lifted, while the opening hours of restaurants were extended to midnight. They previously had to close at 5 p.m.

The Times of Malta said Malta is currently vaccinating people at a faster rate than its EU peers.

There are only six patients in Mater Dei Hospital with COVID-19, including just four in ITU.

Vaccine certificate

Malta claims to be first EU country to achieve herd immunity against coronavirus
A vaccine certificate would be launched in Malta in the coming days and from July authorities would be able to use this to begin to open cultural and entertainment events. Photo: Reuters

He said a vaccine certificate would be launched in the coming days and from July authorities would be able to use this to begin to open cultural and entertainment events.

Meanwhile, residents of elderly homes have been allowed to go out on excursions from May 24.

Asked when Malta could expect to return to normality, Fearne said the country had "started the road to normality".

According to official figures released by health authorities on May 24, a total of 474,475 COVID-19 vaccination jabs have been administered so far. The figures show that 302,933 of these were first doses.

The latest population figures, made available by the National Statistics Office, which date to the end of 2019, show that Malta’s total population stands at 514,564. The number of people aged 16 and over amounts to 432,616.

The country has also reported 418 deaths from the deadly disease.

Four vaccines are currently being administered – Pfizer-BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. /.

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Rosy Huong