The doctors’ association has flagged concerns over the fact that five per cent of travellers arriving in Malta in the first days of this month had to be tested upon arrival.

As of June 1, when Malta’s tourism resumed after months of restrictions, all those travelling to the island must present either a negative PCR test result or a vaccine certificate.

According to figures, five per cent of arrivals on June 1 and 2 did not have the required documents and had to be tested. In April, that figure stood at around 30 per cent.

Medical Association of Malta president Martin Balzan said this was “not desirable” as it presented two main issues: the risk of importing variants of concern and bringing to nothing efforts to promote the island as a safe destination.

“Would a traveller feel safe sitting on a plane not knowing whether there is an infected person onboard? Balzan asked.

“No. What’s the point of promoting the country as a safe destination when these things are still happening.”

He urged the authorities to establish why some passengers were still making their way here without documents, even though this is now regulated by a specific law.

“If it is an administrative issue, then this needs to be addressed and efforts to ensure all those involved know what is happening should be stepped up,” he said.

“If it’s because the test offered here is too cheap, then raise the price to... say, €250."

People arriving in Malta without the necessary documentation must fork out €120 for a PCR test and €100 for every night spent in government-approved accommodation until the test results are out. If a test is positive, those in quarantine must pay for the entire stay until they are virus-free.

Confusion at airport over testing rules

Airport sources said some of those arriving without documents were presenting so-called rapid tests instead of the required PCR tests.

Some airlines, the sources said, were “somehow still unaware” that the Maltese authorities require PCR tests. So, passengers were allowed to board only to be denied entry upon arrival.

Another issue flagged in recent days was related to the timing of testing. According to the latest rules, a PCR test result is only valid if it is taken not earlier than 72 hours before arrival in Malta.

However, some travellers have wrongly interpreted this rule and present a result that was taken 72 hours before departure, which, in some cases, would expire by the time they land in Malta.

Public health chief Charmaine Gauci said a few days ago that the authorities were stepping up training to ensure all those involved know the rules they should follow.

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