Anyone arriving to Malta is now being thermally screened, as part of efforts to try and prevent the new coronavirus from reaching the island. 

On Sunday, the health authorities announced that all people arriving in Malta would be screened by thermal cameras, as reports of COVID-19 cases increased in neighbouring Italy.

Five people have died after contracting COVID-19 in Italy. 

A spokeswoman for the health authorities told Times of Malta on Monday that two screening devices had been set up at Malta International Airport.

Passengers disembarking from vessels at the Grand Harbour and catamaran passenger terminal in Marsa are also being scanned. 

A thermal scanner at MIA flags a high temperature reading as a woman walks past. The woman was carrying a jug of hot water for testing purposes.

Scanners are being used to measure body temperature. Those flagged as having a fever will be taken to a specialised clinic by health authorities, to receive a mouth swab test. 

Signs have been placed near passenger arrival points to guide and inform people about testing, the spokeswoman explained. 

At Mater Dei Hospital, all patients with respiratory symptoms are being checked for COVID-19. 44 patients were tested on Monday, health authority sources said, with all resulting negative for the virus. 

All patients with respiratory symptoms at Mater Dei tested

Meanwhile, health sources told Times of Malta that as part of efforts to increase surveillance for the virus, all patients with respiratory symptoms at Mater Dei were now being tested for COVID-19. 

On Monday, 44 such tests were carried out and all came back negative.

Passenger describes difference between checks in Malta, Italy

A passenger who returned to Malta from Italy on Sunday evening expressed concern that while he had been tested in Venice, when he arrived back in Malta he had walked out the airport without being tested or asked any questions. 

“We were expecting to at least be asked where we were coming from or whether we had been anywhere close to where cases have been reporting," said Owen Bonello. 

“But this was not the case and we just walked out as though nothing has been going on in recent days. I though it was very alarming,” Mr Bonello said. 

The passenger also claimed that there were no signs in place to offer any guidance to those travelling. 

Venice had to cut its carnival celebrations short on Sunday following reports of a rapid spread of coronavirus cases in northern Italy. 

Authorities in northern regions have cancelled all large gatherings, including football matches and fashion shows, to try and slow the spread of the virus. 

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