142 new Coronavirus Cases – Malta-24 News Briefing – Sunday 18 October 2020

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Update 1235

Malta registered 142 new Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours. This brings the total of active cases to 1347. Over the past 124 hours there were 2404 swab tests and 52 recoveries. Since the start of the pandemic, 4628 cases were registered.

Update 1145Wage Supplements to stay PM Abela

Monday’s budget will be based on socialist principles, the straightening of the economy and the assurance of jobs, Prime Minister Robert Abela said. “The budget will serve to bring courage, hope and reassurance, while incentivizing consumption,” Abela said. Abela said that government’s contribution to social measures will triple, up from €35 million to €100 million. Speaking on Monday’s budget, Abela announced that government’s wage supplement will continue, while also declaring that people will receive another round of vouchers. – MaltaToday

Update 1130 Malta’s Covid-19 situation is out of control – PN Leader Grech

Malta’s COVID-19 situation is out of control because Prime Minister Robert Abela failed to take timely decisions, PN leader Bernard Grech has said, adding he believes Superintendent Charmaine Gauci is not being allowed to take decisions. 

Speaking on the Nationalist Party’s media on Sunday, Grech said Malta has growing number of new COVID-19 cases because Abela continues to sweep problems under the carpet. 

“People are questioning how Abela is saying everything is under control. Had our prime minister been more responsible, our tourism industry would not have been in the dire situation it is in. 

Updated 0911 – Newspaper Review

Malta Today claims that murder suspect Vincent Muscat told the police that the bomb used in the Caruana Galizia plot was supplied by Jamie Vela and Robert Agius who gave the hitmen instructions on how to detonate it.  

The Sunday Times reveals that the suspected suppliers of the bomb used in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder have offered one of the hitmen €1,500 a month after they learnt he was ready to disclose information to the police.

It-Torċa leads with survey findings showing a 28.8 point gap in trust rating between the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader. Robert Abela enjoys a trust rating of 52.9 percent while Bernard Grech holds 24.1 percent.  

Illum quotes nurses’ union president Paul Pace who said that around 50 operations are being cancelled every day to keep up with the demand of the ITU. Nurses are being urgently transferred to intensive care to keep the unit going.

The Independent on Sunday speaks to Rachel Moran, a victim of sex trafficking and prostitution, who said that decriminalisation of sex work without the necessary controls would be disastrous for Malta.

Il-Mument claims that Prime Minister Robert Abela is seeking to co-opt MEP Josianne Cutajar to the House, following the appointment of fellow MEP Miriam Dalli and chief of staff Clyde Caruana as MPs.

Kullħadd says that GDP increased by five percent in the last six months, stimulated by the government’s financial package. The paper says the economy in Malta outpaced the EU average where many member states experienced declines.

The Sunday Times says that the European Commission is considering acting against Malta over the IIP scheme for breaching EU rules. Sources told the paper that the EC is set to issue a formal warning, the first step in infringement procedures.

The Independent on Sunday quotes an EY survey which finds that 57 percent of companies in Malta were negatively impacted by the pandemic and more than three-fourths of business invested in remote working. The full results will be published on Tuesday.

Illum says that there were 180 reports of burnt vehicles in the last three years, but only 11 cases have been solved. Bormla recorded the highest number of incidents, with 15 cars torched, followed by Valletta and Qormi, each reporting 13 cases.

Il-Mument says that the Union of Professional Educators is threatening strikes from Monday if the government refuses their request for a meeting. The Union is demanding that some classes shift online.

Kullħadd says that Birdlife Malta and Nature Trust have agreements for the management of sites similar to those signed by the government with the hunters’ federation last week. The paper says these agreements cost hundreds of thousands of public funds every year.

Malta Today says that healthcare professionals are demanding stricter Covid-19 measures and enforcement after an ‘alarming’ rise in the number of infections. 204 new cases registered between Friday and Saturday alone, the highest since the start of the outbreak. 

Morning Briefing

Gozo PN MP Frederick Azzopardi dies

Nationalist Party MP Frederick Azzopardi died on Saturday aged 71, the PN said. Azzopardi had been elected to Parliament from the Gozo district in every election since 1998.

The MP formed part of the parliamentary delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Two co-options for Labour Party Parliamentary Group

MEP Miriam Dalli and OPM chief of staff Clyde Caruana will be joining the government’s parliamentary group filling two recently-vacated seats.

In a meeting of the Labour Party executive on Saturday afternoon, Prime Minister Robert Abela presented his plan for the two to be co-opted to the House in the coming days. It is understood that the Caruana and Dalli would be immediately promoted to a Cabinet post.

Record number of new cases of Covid-19, teachers set to strike

Malta has registered an increasingly worrying 204 cases in the past 24 hours alone. Within the same period, 42 persons have recovered, meaning there are now 1,257 active cases.

In a statement, the teachers’ union, MUT, declared that it is expecting the Government to start discussions on the protocols for school closure. In a statement, the union said that it is evident that the high number of daily positive cases and the alarming virus transmission in the community is impacting schools, educators, students and families.

Fellow educators’ Union UPE yesterday evening said it is in the process of issuing a strike directive as a result of the government’s inaction in its control of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catering establishments have warned that closures are on the card after an “unprecedented” drop in sales in September, worse than that recorded at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a survey by the Association of Catering Establishmanets, sales have gone down by 40%.

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