The COVID 111 helpline is currently experiencing a barrage of calls, with people reporting having to wait over 30 minutes to book a swab test. 

Appointments can be made by calling on 111, or by registering online and then receiving a call to confirm the test date.

Times of Malta was on hold for 30 minutes before getting through to the helpline.

Once through, the journalist was informed that the next availability for a PCR or rapid test is on December 27. 

The receiver explained that people with COVID symptoms are being prioritised, meaning tests for those wishing to book a test before travelling abroad during the Christmas holidays are being further delayed.

The delay means those wishing to book a last-minute COVID-19 test might have to book it through the private sector, forking out €35 for a rapid test or €125 for a PCR one.

According to the latest EU figures, on Sunday the health authorities carried out 3,986 COVID-19 tests.

On Monday  Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci told Times of Malta’s readers that the helpline was swamped by people seeking clarification over Italy's introduction of a test for travellers last week. The helpline staff complement had been bolstered but callers are being urged to keep their conversations short.  

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