Malta-24 News Briefing Friday 31st July 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1514 – Doctors increase threats to Government on mass events

Doctors have increased their threats to Government, insisting that they would bring to a halt all activity at community clinics and disrupt outpatient services at Mater Dei unless Government bans mass events.

Meanwhile, The Times of Malta has tried to reach out the organisers of the four largest events due over the next couple of weeks, BPM Festival Malta, Escape 2 The Island, Mi Casa Festival and Rhythm and Waves Festival, which are all organised by the same company, Entertainment Concepts Limited. So far, the company has not made any announcement on cancelling these events. No reply was forthcoming to members of the press.

Updated 1411 – Malta risks losing green status for travel to Ireland

The Irish Independent reports that Sun  Malta is at risk of being dropped from Ireland’s green list of countries deemed safe for travel after seeing a rise in its Covid-19 infection rate.

Read more here.

Updated 1233 – Ten new cases of coronavirus in Malta

There were ten new cases of coronavirus in Malta in the past 24 hours, six of which form part of the St Venera feast cluster, while the rest are sporadic.

The Health Department has from today started to include the recently-disembarked migrants in the official count, taking the Maltese tally to 824 cases, 150 which are active.



Updated 0804 – Newspaper Review

The Times leads with the arrest of two men on suspicion of involvement in a possible drug shooting in Mqabba on Thursday which left a 27-year-old man dead and his 17-year-old cousin with serious injuries.

The Independent says that the victim of a shooting in Mqabba on Thursday drove his car towards a crowd of people that was watching a fireworks display. The medical team on site rushed the wounded man and his shot cousin to hospital.

L-Orizzont says that the Mqabba shooting victim who survived the incident, Vincent Gaffarena, sustained serious injuries to his face and chest. His cousin Saviour Gaffarena, was certified dead on the spot with a shot to the head.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Adrian Delia who criticised Prime Minister Robert Abela for his silence about the National Auditor’s report on the Vitals state hospitals deal. Delia said that Malta is paying €250,000 daily for the healthcare concession.  

The Independent reports the announcement of new safety protocols for mass events by the government following a spike in Covid-19 cases within a few days. Local feat marches are banned, and crowded gathering will be restricted to venue size.

L-Orizzont reports that venues that cater for more than 100 people will have to conduct a risk-assessment exercise before any events can be held there. Meanwhile, attendance for mass events will be limited to one person per four metres squared.

The Times quotes Health Minister Chris Fearne who said that people attending mass events will be required to provide a phone number in order to facilitate contact tracing by authorities if the need arises.

Updated 0755 – Woman hospitalised after fire in her Paola home

A 63-year-old woman has been hospitalised and is in critical condition after her residence in Paola caught fire in the early hours of the morning.

The fire in Ninu Cremona Street was reported to the Police on Friday at 3.10am.

Morning briefing

Re-introduction of restrictive measures: Malta joined several other nations in re-announcing a number of restrictive after a spike in COVID-19 events. Amongst the measures announced the government introduced limits on the number of people who may attend mass events.  However, Government has pushed back calls by doctors and other professional organisations to completely ban large events.

These measures were announced by Health Minister Chris Fearne and Health Superintendent Prof Charmaine Gauci.

As of this morning, risk assessments will need to be carried out for venues which can take more than 100 people.

They key measures include:

  • From today, at 8am, the number of people in every venue should be limited to 1 person for every 4sq.m to ensure social distancing
  • Within the venue itself, groups of more than 10 will not be allowed
  • People who attend these events will have to leave a contact number for ease of tracing
  • Organisers will be responsible to ensure these standards are adhered to and risk legal action if they fail to do so
  • Venues that can take more than 100 people will have to carry out a risk assessment prior to going ahead with the event
  • From Friday, all festa marches will be stopped

The announcement came at a press conference hours after the nurses union joined the doctors’ union in warning that they would resort to industrial action unless mass events were cancelled. Despite Government not banning large-scale events, a number of event promoters and band clubs have cancelled planned activities over the next month.

Doctors to press ahead with industrial action

Doctors, however announced that they will press ahead with industrial action after government failed to ban mass events.  “It is clear that the party promoters have had their way with the politicians as this will not protect the Maltese public at all,” they insisted.

In a statement, the doctors’ union said it was reliably informed that public health specialists were not consulted in the decisions being taken.  Nurses have also joined the calls for a ban on large events, saying that 30 nurses are currently in quarantine. The Health Department yesterday increased Malta’s active case tally to 55, added to which 85 migrants have now tested positive.

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