Italy orders COVID tests on travellers from Greece, Spain, Croatia, Malta

FILE PHOTO: Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza speaks to reporters in Rome, Italy, February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo reuters_tickers
This content was published on August 12, 2020 - 21:05

ROME (Reuters) - Italy ordered travellers arriving from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain to be tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday and added Colombia to a list of countries under a complete travel ban amid growing concern over new infections.

Once the world's worst-affected country, Italy has managed to bring down and contain the number of infections in recent weeks but officials are worried by a gradual resurgence.

On Wednesday, authorities recorded 481 new cases and 10 deaths, twice the levels regularly seen in June when tough lockdown measures imposed from March were being eased.

With the annual summer holiday reaching its peak, health services are bracing for a return of travellers from destinations where social distancing, face masks and other protective measures appear to have been widely ignored.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced late on Wednesday he had signed an order requiring antibody or swab tests to be performed on all arrivals from the four countries and said there would be a ban on arrivals and transit passengers from Colombia.

"We must continue on a path of caution to defend the results we have obtained over the past months through sacrifices by everyone," he said on Facebook.

Greece reported 262 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak, while Spain reported almost 1,700 new cases.

Malta, which had brought cases down to zero for a few days, last week reintroduced some controls after a jump.

Earlier this month, the Italian government extended until September a number of measures, including telling people to wear masks in closed public spaces and maintain distance of at least 1 metre while also recommending frequent hand washing.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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