Updated at 10.40am with government statement. 

Health Minister Chris Fearne is in self-isolation after coming into contact with a positive COVID-19 case.  

He is understood to have been in contact with a positive COVID-19 case but has not tested positive for the virus himself.

In line with public health protocols, he has started a 14-day period of self-isolation. 

The health ministry issued a statement on Monday morning, shortly after Times of Malta broke the news. 

In its statement, the ministry said it was a member of Fearne's family who had tested positive for the virus and with whom the minister had been in contact.  

Fearne, a surgeon who also serves as Malta's deputy prime minister, has been leading the government’s charge against the pandemic, but informed his Cabinet colleagues he would not be attending a meeting of ministers held every Monday.  

His self-isolation comes as the island slips into a summer spike of confirmed coronavirus cases.  

Malta has gone from recording fleeting cases of the virus to registering triple digits over the weekend. On Sunday, authorities announced 101 cases had been recorded, slightly lower than the 109 new cases recorded on Saturday.

The rising tide of cases has prompted the government to last week announce that only fully-vaccinated travellers  will be allowed into the country as of Wednesday, with an exception for locals who are already abroad and seeking to return to Malta.

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