Updated 9pm with Malta Dockers' Union directive

Port workers on Monday downed tools amid concerns that stevedores coming from Italy are not being adequately screened for potential new coronavirus infections.

Operations were suspended on Monday after port workers expressed concern those coming from Italy were not being subjected to proper screening.

Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises CEO Abigail Mamo said that operations resumed some time later after port authorities agreed to meet with health authorities to discuss the matter. 

But operations were halted again for a second time later in the day, as concerns about screening procedures continued to worry workers. 

By Monday afternoon, Italy had reported its fifth death from the new COVID-19 virus, prompting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to urge people "not to give in to panic and follow the advice of health authorities".

All passengers arriving in Malta by air or sea are being screened by thermal cameras as of Monday afternoon. Those flagged by the thermal screening as having a fever will be tested further.

Malta Dockers' Union issues directives 

The Malta Dockers' Union meanwhile instructed its members to refrain from boarding cargo ships unless these have been certified as being clear.

In a statement, it said it was in talks with the health authorities but these are still under way so the directive was issued until an arrangement is found. The union wants ships to be certified by a doctor. 

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