Updated 2.15pm

Malta has detected a second case of the highly infectious COVID-19 Delta variant, Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed on Wednesday. 

Speaking during a press conference marking the opening of a new Mater Dei unit, Fearne said the second case of the virus variant was detected in recent days. 

He said those in contact with the patient have tested negative, although they remain in isolation. 

Asked by Times of Malta whether the case was imported, Fearne said this did not seem to be the case and the patient might have contracted the virus from the community. 

The first case of the Delta variant was detected earlier this month and as with the second case, the authorities could not link the case to travel abroad.

Three virus patients in hospital

Meanwhile, giving an update on the hospital situation, Fearne said there are three virus patients at Mater Dei, up from just one last week. None of the patients require intensive care. 

Asked about doctors' suggestion for travellers from the UK to be required to present a negative PCR test along with their vaccine certificate, Fearne said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has not made this recommendation. 

"We have always followed ECDC’s advice and that is what we are doing now. The ECDC says that those who are fully vaccinated don’t need a PCR test," he said. 

The UK is currently dealing with a spike in infections as a result of the rapid spread of the Delta variant. Malta is set to welcome thousands of British tourists in the coming days after the island was placed on the UK's green list. 

'Small' number of imported cases

Fearne did not say how many recently detected virus cases had been brought into the country by overseas visitors, saying instead that the number of imported cases was "small". 

With regard to talks with the entertainment industry, Fearne said they had been progressing well and he was hopeful an announcement on the way forward could be made soon. He did not elaborate on when this would be or what was to be announced. 

Operators in Malta's entertainment industry were set to hold a protest on Wednesday demanding fairer restrictions although this had to be cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions banning gatherings. 

The operators will instead be holding an online press conference on Wednesday evening. 

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