Malta's COVID-19 infection rate has dropped for the first time since mid-June to become the eighth-highest rate in Europe, according to the EU's disease centre.

In their weekly update, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed Malta's infection rate stood at 354.28 cases per 100,000 inhabitants last week, down from 490.1 and 379 in the previous two weeks. 

The ECDC's rates are worked out from the previous weeks’ figures. The latest numbers reflect the situation between July 19 and August 1.

The rate had been on an upward trend since mid-June when the number of new cases spiked after days of only a few new cases being detected.

Compared to the data published a week ago, the island's rate has dropped four spots to become the eighth-highest in Europe.

Meanwhile, Malta's 14-day death notification rate per 1,000,000 inhabitants shot up to 5.83 from1.94 the previous week. The death rate had stood at zero for weeks before increasing for the first time last week.

The death rate is now the ninth-highest in Europe, although it remains significantly lower than that of a number of countries. 

And on travel, the ECDC has once again put the island on its red travel list. 

This marks the fourth week since Malta was placed on this list after being on the green list earlier in summer. 

A country is classified as red if the notification rate falls between 75 and 200 and the positivity rate is higher than four. Malta's positivity rate is currently 5.83, the ECDC data showed, up slightly from 5.7 in the previous update. 

The ECDC update comes hours after the health authorities unveiled new regulations for events and quarantine, with vaccinated people to be allowed to spend less time in quarantine if in contact with a COVID-19 patient.

From August 16, all those who are fully vaccinated need to spend seven days in quarantine instead of 14, Health Minister Chris Fearne told a news conference on Thursday. The quarantine period will end once a negative test is presented. 

The number of those attending controlled seated events will also increase from August 16 but standing events will remain barred in what looks like a U-turn. 

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