Authorities are worried that sunny weather will tempt people outdoors this weekend and increase the risk of a new spike in coronavirus infections. 

Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci made it a point on Friday to urge people to stay indoors over the coming days, warning that people might be infected with COVID-19 but not even know it. 

Her warning reflects concerns among top health officials that the bright spring weather, when combined with the relatively low number of daily coronavirus cases Malta has been registering over the past week, will encourage more people to head outdoors. 

Malta has identified 422 coronavirus cases so far and registered single-digit increases in cases between Sunday and Wednesday. Numbers rose slightly on Thursday and Friday, when 13 and 10 new cases were identified respectively. 

Health Minister Chris Fearne said that efforts so far had allowed Malta to keep the virus spread “within manageable limits”. 

But that could quickly change, he warned, unless people continued to practice social distancing and kept their distance from one another. 

“As a nation, we must remain focused and determined,” he said. 

“Staying indoors as much as possible this weekend is essential. The more we keep the situation under control, the stronger and healthier we will emerge form this. Stay in. Stay safe.” 

Forecasters expect the weather to remain sunny throughout the weekend before taking a slightly gloomier and wetter turn next week. 

Although Malta is not under total lockdown, gatherings of more than three people have been banned, crossings to Gozo limited to only essential trips and vulnerable and elderly people told to stay indoors except for rare exceptions. 

Sunny spring weather has proven to be problematic for local law enforcement, with €100 fines for people gathered illegally in public spiking on days with bright weather. 

Concerns about lax respect for the newly-introduced laws prompted six local councils this week to urge authorities to close off access to public beaches. Countries all across Europe, from Italy to France or Belgium, have done so to discourage public gatherings there during the pandemic. 

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