Update 1900 – The Office of the President said that a member of The Palace’s staff has tested positive for COVID-19 during a routine swab test. In this light, the President of Malta and Mrs Vella – who this morning tested negative for COVID-19 in a routine swab test – have nevertheless decided to self-isolate for one week as a precautionary measure. Consequently, all the President’s engagements that had been scheduled for the coming week are being postponed. (The Malta Independent)
The Nationalist Party has called for the declaration of a public health emergency as Malta’s active coronavirus cases hit an all-time high on Saturday. Shadow minister for health Stephen Spiteri said the sharp spike in cases pointed to a failure of the government’s containment strategy. He said the falling efficacy of the contact-tracing system, and the filling-up of intensive care units, were a “warning light” of an emergency situation. (Times of Malta)
MEP Miriam Dalli and MP Ian Castaldi Paris have taken PN MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa to task for not supporting the condemnation of the state of the rule of law in Bulgaria because of Boris Borissov’s alliance with the EPP. The Maltese MEPs from two different groupings traded barbs on Saturday. In a press conference on Saturday held together with MP Ian Castaldi Paris, Labour MEP Miriam Dalli lashed out at Metsola and Casa, saying that while the two PN MEPs were happy to criticise Malta and vote in favour of European Parliament motions criticising it on rule of law issues, they had then backed the Bulgarian government when it faced similar EP criticism. “Hypocrisy is unacceptable and if PN MEPs believe in democracy and rule of law, they should clearly show that they believe in these things everywhere and for all countries,” Dalli said. “So far we’ve seen them criticise and vote against Malta but then defend and vote in favour of countries backed by their own political grouping.” (MaltaToday)
Archbishop Charles Scicluna urged all politicians to follow the advice of Pope Francis and define their political vocation as an expression of love as he was paid a courtesy visit by the newly-appointed Leader of the Opposition Bernard Grech. In his opening remarks, Archbishop Scicluna highlighted that Grech now occupied an important role in Malta’s democracy, and urged him to serve as an instrument of loyalty, and a voice in favour of the common good. In response, Grech said that he understood the great responsibilities he faced, and pledged to work to the benefit of as many people as possible – whilst emphasising that he would not ignore the needs of minorities, whose voices are often unheard. (Newsbook)
Relatives of people dying with COVID-19 do not only have to suffer the loss of their loved ones but also endure a ‘cruel’ burial imposed by the authorities accused of following “medieval” procedures. The Shift has spoken to the relatives of victims who said their loved ones had to die on their own as family members are not allowed anywhere near them. They have limited time: “The body was already wrapped up within a few hours and placed in a government grave, not a family one.” Relatives are told they will not be able to move the deceased to a family grave for another 10 years. The process is leaving family members baffled and confused. They are not given a clear explanation as to why this procedure is necessary. (The Shift News)
Covid-19 Update – Malta registered 100 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, with the number of recoveries during the same period being 22. The total number of cases now stands at 703. Since the first pandemic case registered, Malta had a total 3681 cases, 2937 recoveries and 41 persons died of Covid-19.
Govt signs off Miżieb and Aħrax woodland management to hunters
The government has signed off an agreement which hands over the management of the Miżieb and Aħrax woodlands in Mellieħa to the hunters’ federation. The press was not invited for this event.
In a statement, Government said that this agreement “follows a collective decision by the Cabinet of Ministers and the approval of the Lands Authority Board of Governors. These agreements introduce a number of obligations for the management of Miżieb and Aħrax land for FKNK while permitting access to the public.”
Goovernment said that it has placed obligations include maintenance, upkeep of cleanliness and general upkeep of the sites, health and safety on the sites and clear signage, the government statement read.
While social media went into a frenzy of negative comments at this decision, eight NGOs have filed court action against the government’s decision to hand over Miżieb and Aħrax woodlands to the FKNK.
Libyan politicians in Malta talks on unity and reconciliation in Libya
Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo met with a group of politicians from different parts of Libya who agreed to meet in Malta to discuss national unity and reconciliation among Libyans after nine years at war.
Minister Bartolo called on them to work together, forgive each other and build national unity with the same resolve they need to rebuild airports, power stations, electricity and water services, hospitals, schools and homes that were destroyed by the war.
Minister Bartolo hoped that their work would sustain similar efforts towards a united, Libyan-led Libya wherein the country’s wealth is used for the benefit of all Libyans.
Covid-19 Update – Weekly Briefing by Health Superintendent
The Health Ministry reported 75 new cases of coronavirus, identified from 2,732 swab tests. 31 persons have recovered over the same period, taking the number of active cases to 625. The average age of the cases identified this past week stood at 39.
In her weekly press briefing, Prof Charmaine Gauci said that 56 patients are currently hospitalised, nine of them in ITU. She said that currently, there are 9 Covid-19 positive patients in the ITU, 7 in the Infectious Diseases Unit, 9 in other Mater Dei Hospital Covid wards, 12 at Boffa Hospital, 18 at St Thomas Hospital, one Case at Karin Grech Hospital and no active cases at Mt Carmel Hospital and at the Gozo General Hospital.
However, cases in homes for the elderly were on the decrease. The number of cases in elderly homes is reducing, but we are still having elderly people contract the virus in the community, so we need to protect them as they are also at risk” she added.
The Superintendent also insisted on the fact that besides Covid-19, the winter season will also bring with it other illnesses, including influenza. Professor Gauci appealed to everyone to get the vaccination, which has been on the market for a long time, and gave an assurance that it is safe.
BOV Hamrun branch temporarily closed
Bank of Valletta’s Ħamrun branch will be temporarily closed after one of its staff members tested positive for coronavirus, according to a bank statement yesterday.
The branch will be thoroughly sanitised and will reopen once BOV is sure it is safe to do so, the bank said in a statement, adding that the health authority will contact people who might have been exposed to the virus as part of its contact tracing protocol.