Malta’s Health Minister Chris Fearne announced on Monday that his country has inoculated 70% of its adult population with at least one COVID-19 jab, becoming the first European Union country to achieve so-called herd immunity.
The tiny Mediterranean island has had an average of 3 new virus infections daily over the past week, with the test positivity rate at a low of 0.2%. Two new infections were reported on Monday.
Fearne told a news conference that “vaccines are being administered at a rate of 1 every 5 seconds,” adding that “42% of the adult population has received two doses.”
Inoculation is currently open to all residents of Malta over the age of 16 and Fearne said children aged 12 and over would also be vaccinated once European medical authorities give the go-ahead.
He also pointed out that mandatory wearing of masks outdoors would be lifted on July 1 for inoculated people as long as virus cases remain low.
Health authorities had earlier said mask-wearing would no longer be necessary on beaches from June 1.
Curbs on swimming pools and gyms were lifted on Monday, while the opening hours of restaurants were extended to midnight. They previously had to close at 5 PM.