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Malta bans mass gatherings, makes masks mandatory as coronavirus cases surge

Malta bans mass gatherings, makes masks mandatory as coronavirus cases surge

Malta banned mass gatherings and made it mandatory to wear masks in public on Friday. The move came as new coronavirus infections surged after having been reduced to zero for a week early in July.

Health authorities reported 49 new infections on Friday, the second highest daily number since the first case was detected in early March. Nine patients have died, Reuters reported.

The decision to reimpose controls represents a sharp turnaround for Malta, which depends on tourism for a third of its GDP.

The Mediterranean country has conducted the third-highest level of testing in the EU and had lifted restrictions and re-opened some overseas travel last month as case numbers fell. It now joins a growing list of countries forced to reimpose controls after early successes in controlling the disease.