Malta-24 News Briefing Monday 27th July 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Updated 1822 –  Theuma out of intensive care

The Police said in a statement this evening that Melvin Theuma has been taken out of intensive care and is now being treated in an ENT ward at Mater Dei Hospital. His condition remains stable.

Updated 1701 – Schools on target to re-open on 28th September

Education Minister Owen Bonnici said that Government is committed to start the new scholastic year on schedule, on 28th September. While precautions will be taken, Bonnici assured Parliament that the first day will be a normal day.

He described Skolasajf and childcare centres in Summer as a success and said that these served as an important experience to support the re-opening of schools in September.

Updated 1644 – Malta Chamber calls for vigilance, maturity on Covid-19

In view of the uncharacteristically large number of new COVID 19 cases registered on Sunday, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry called for businesses and the general public to remain vigilant to ensure a heightened sense of maturity and responsibility by the operators in the entertainment industries.

The Malta Chamber stopped short of calling for a ban on mass events, but argued that these should be organised in a responsible fashion and are able to manage responsible crowds, taking into consideration all safeguards and mitigation measures of social distancing and hygene.  Short of that, such events should be called off, it said in a statement.

Updated 1505  – Positive case at Luqa Skola Sajf centre reports that a staff member at Luqa Government Summer School has reported positive to Covid-19. The Health Superintendence confirmed this news adding that this person was in contact with three classes.

The parents of affected children are being contacted for a swab test.

Updated 1235 – One new case of coronavirus

After the significant increase in new cases registered in the past few days, the Health Department said that there was just one new case, resulting from the same cluster.

The number of cases has now gone up to 701, 27 of which are still active.

Updated 0852 – Newspaper Review

The Independent reports that there are currently 26 active coronavirus cases after 14 people have been diagnosed with the disease between Saturday and Sunday. The spike in cases is linked to a party at a hotel the weekend before.

In-Nazzjon says that health authorities are urging people who attended the Hotel Takeover party to get tested for Covid-19 after 16 cases reported between Friday and Sunday were connected to the event.

The Times reports on calls for caution after a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases over the weekend with the Medical Association and the Developers’ Association among the organisations to express concern.

L-Orizzont says that over 1,200 swab tests were conducted over the weekend following Covid-19 cases detected from mass events. The paper says that the spike in positive tests are fuelling fears of a second wave of the virus.

The Times says that the owners of a fuel station in Burmarrad filed an application to build a two-storey restaurant on site. Objectors to the controversial permit for the station three years ago had warned that it could grow into a multi-storey commercial centre on ODZ land.

The Independent speaks to Friends of the Earth after the NGO raised concerns about plans to add a pier in Comino. The organisation said that there is no particular carrying capacity on the island but called for authorities to carry a management study.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Adrian Delia who said he expects the Prime Minister to make the decision to transfer the privatised hospitals back to the public. He said that the concession to Vitals for 90 years was a ‘scandalous deal’.

L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said that 4,000 new jobs have been created in the last five weeks. He contrasted Malta’s success with other economies that are still expecting unemployment to rise.

In-Nazzjon reports that an Austrian man died in Xatt l-Aħmar, Għajnsielem, while diving on Sunday morning. The 53-year-old found himself in difficulty and was brought back to the shore by other divers.

Updated 0731 – Doctors join wave of disapproval of parties and mass celebrations

The Medical Association of Malta has joined the wave of disapproval against the organisation of mass gatherings throughout Summer insisting that telling people to party in their thousands, get drunk and behave responsibly is nonsense. It appealed to government to stop with immediate effect such events.

The doctors said that they appreciated that all those employed in the tourist industry have to be supported, but insisted that high risk gambling with the health of the Maltese people is unacceptable particularly when it appears that an effective vaccine will be available within a few months.

The MAM also said that the idea of political leaders speaking about business as usual is not acceptable to the medical profession. Organisers and politicians must realise that they become personally legally and financially liable should illness or death result from disease, they said.

Morning Briefing

A chorus of voices are calling for mass gatherings to be stopped in view of a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Malta. These calls increased following the news of 14 new cases, the majority of which linked to the G7Events Hotel TakeOver Party cluster.

These calls have started to achieve the first results with the cancellation of the first events scheduled for August, including Creamfields Summerdaze party as well as the outside band marches in Dingli.

Social media was awash with such calls and a petition launched to call for the ban of mass events attracted thousands of signatures within the first few hours.

Although members of the medical and related professions were the first to raise the alarm, including through a strong statement by the Malta College of Pathologists, eventually even a number of operators in various business sectors and other stakeholders have expressed their concern to the spike as it might impact the overall economic recovery plan.

Among these the Malta Employers’ Association said that mass events like parties and feast marches are risking the reversal of all the gains made against the spread of the Covid virus in Malta.

Earlier in the morning, Prime Minister Robert Abela  had played down fears of a spike in new coronavirus cases, saying he was determined to maintain the level of normality restored since June and keep the country open for business. “Those fomenting fears whenever there is a new case, stand no chance of creating panic,” Abela said when addressing the Labour general conference. Abela insisted there would be no turning back at this point in time. “We will remain open for business” he said.

While the 12.30pm appointment during which had been largely pushed aside by many throughout July, it will certainly be top of the agenda once again today.

CDE News

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