Malta-24 News Briefing Sunday 26th July 2020 – Updated

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Update 2136  – In the light of the recent developments related to the number of coronavirus cases on the Maltese islands, the organiser of the Creamfields Summerdaze 2020 party,  announced that they decided to postpone their activity to 2021. The decision, which was welcomed by many Maltese, follows a national debate on whether there should be mass gatherings, in particular dance parties and feasts following a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases registered.

The Summer Daze Malta festival was set to draw large crowds with events at Ta’ Qali and several other locations around Malta between August 9 and 16. Over two previous editions, the festival has drawn top names such as Rita Ora, Martin Garrix, Tyga, David Guetta and others. (Times / Newsbook)


Update 1944 – The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers has advised members who teach at a particular English language school to self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible after being informed “by reliable sources,” that some of its students have tested positive to Covid-19.

Update 1809 – 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.

The country’s economy, the country’s public health and the fate of Malta’s achievement are being put at risk by what the Association is deeming as the ridiculous authorisation of such events.

Update 1605 – Nine of today’s fourteen cases were linked to the Weekend Take Over Party

Nine out of the fourteen cases which have tested positive over the last 24 hours are linked to Hotel Takeover Summer 2020, therefore reaching a total of 15 confirmed cases as part of this cluster.

Public Health Authorities are still recommending that all those who attended any event or party related to the Hotel Takeover Summer 2020 get tested for COVID-19. Persons are to call 111 to set an appointment, even if they do not have any symptoms.

As symptoms can develop within 14 days of exposure, it is imperative that whoever attended these events monitors themselves for symptoms for the coming two weeks. Anyone who develops symptoms should stay indoors and call 111 again to book another swab to exclude COVID-19 infection.

Meanwhile, three of the fourteen cases were local sporadic cases and two were imported cases.

None of the 14 positive cases require treatment in hospital and, following clinical evaluation, are all recovering at their own home under the coordination of primary healthcare.

Update 1535 – Malta College of Pathologists alarmed with recent cluster linked to a mass gathering event of a purely entertainment value

The Malta College of Pathologists has said that it is alarmed by the recent cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to a mass gathering event of a purely entertainment value.  As highlighted in previous public statements, COVID-19 is still very much with us – as much as we would wish it otherwise. Anyone who believes that the challenge from this virus is over, shows a disregard to history and obliviousness to the fundamental principles of infectious disease transmission. Just because we have thankfully experienced numerous days with no positive cases, does not in any way infer that the virus is defeated. Like all similar respiratory viruses, it is simply lying low… waiting for the right conditions to rear its frightening head; as last week’s event clearly proves.  Malta Independent 

Update 1530  – Petition to stop mass gatherings launched

Over 2,600 persons have signed  a petition calling on the cancellation of mass gatherings. Following the news of 14 new cases, 7 of which are reportedly linked to the G7Events Hotel TakeOver Party cluster, the general public is concerned about the risks of mass gatherings taking place in the island.

Apart from the pressure being done by private citizens, the CD eNews agency is reliably informed that a number of operators in various business sectors and other stakeholders also expressed their concern to the spike as it might impact the overall economic recovery plan and the country’s reputation built on the strength of its successful management of the first Coronavirus wave.

The possibility of the island of Malta of hosting 4, three-day weekend long dance parties, which normally take place in Spain, in the coming months has raised concern in view of the various situations evolving around Europe. These parties are expected to attract to the island circa 100,000 persons.

Earlier the French Minister of Health said that the progress in the fight against coronavirus since the end of lockdown had been “erased” as Europe faced a significant surge in new infections across the continent.

Update 1430 – PM Abela plays down fears of a spike in new cases, vows to maintain level of normality 

Prime Minister Robert Abela 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. “Against all forecasts, in the last five weeks 4,000 new jobs were created and unemployment has gone down,” he said.

Update 1300 – A 53-year-old Austrian diver lost his life after finding himself in difficulty at sea in Xatt’ l-Ahmar, Ghajnsielem, Gozo. The police were informed of the need for assistance at 11am on Sunday, and police officers, Civil Protection Department officials and a Gozo General Hospital medical team went on site.

Update 1231 – 14 new cases confirmed by Health Department

The Health Department has confirmed speculations which had been doing the rounds this morning that 14 new cases of coronavirus were identified overnight.

The Department said that details of today’s cases will be announced later, although we are reliably informed that 7 cases are related to the Hotel TakeOver Party cluster.


Update 1111 – Newspaper Review

The Sunday Times leads with a Misco survey showing that 46.5 percent of PN councillors believe Adrian Delia should step aside while 41 percent want him to stay on as party leader. The remaining 12.5 percent are undecided.

Malta Today claims that a conversation recorded by state witness Melvin Theuma suggests that he had offered €15 to former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar to obtain a pardon on charges of money laundering.

The Independent on Sunday speaks to virologist Dr Chris Barbara who disagreed that parties should be cancelled/ He said, instead, that safety protocols should be followed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Illum says that six people are expected to contest a race for PN leader if the General Council opens a contest. The paper names Therese Comodini Cachia, Roberta Metsola, Alex Perici Calsiaone, Mark Anthony Sammut, and Bernard Greach, besides incumbent Adrian Delia.

Il-Mument quotes PN Leader Arian Delia who said that the voting process in the party’s General Council will give voice to paid-up members. Delia said that the PN will come out of this situation stronger and renewed.

Kullħadd announces the confirmation of Daniel Micallef as the new PL deputy leader for party affairs. Micallef said that his goal is to keep strengthening the party to build a better future for the country.

It-Torċa publishes the stories of live-in domestic workers who said that their working conditions are form of slavery. They revealed that they are paid €500 to €600 a month for working weeks of longer than 40 hours.

Malta Today quotes lawyer Bernard Grech who, in an interview on 103 radio, confirmed that he decided back in January that he would be ready to contest a race for the leadership of the PN. Grech said he is confident he can unite the party behind him.

The Sunday Times speaks to the president of the Malta Institute of Accountants Fabio Axisa who warned that grey-listing by Moneyval would have ‘disastrous’ effects on Malta. He said that the financial sector should not become political football.

The Independent on Sunday reports that several women have been opening up on experiences of sexual assault on social media, tagging their posts with #metooMalta and #ibelieveyou.

Kullħadd says that the motion passed in the PN Executive Committee might prove to be Adrian Delia’s chance to overcome the challenge from dissenting MPs. The paper says, however, that it could strengthen their hand in the parliamentary group.

It-Torċa quotes a Central Bank report about a year-long loan moratorium by banks to offset the effects of Covid-19 on customers. The paper says that the measure could be introduced because local banks are in a strong financial situation.

Il-Mument says Prime Minister Robert Abela is covering for his predecessor Joseph Muscat. The paper reports about ‘suspicious manoeuvres’ with an Italian millionaire with links to Malta, Naples and Zurich.

Update 0728h

A 49 year old British woman had to be admitted to Mater Dei Hospital, suffering from serious injuries after being found badly hurt and lying in a Buġibba street on Saturday night. Initial reports suggest the woman had had a fight with a 38-year-old Syrian man who lives in Balzan.

Police said  that this happened following what they believe was a violent altercation.

The victim is now receiving treatment at Mater Dei Hospital for her serious injuries. Police found the woman after they were called to Triq it-Turisti at around 10.45pm following reports of a violent argument.

The suspect is now being held by police for questioning. Magistrate Doreen Clarke is leading an inquiry into the case.

Police / Times of Malta

Morning Briefing

Despite the sweltering heat of the Maltese summer, the busy news cycle of the past weeks continued unabated with various developments which are sure to animate discussions on the beach and restaurant tables this Sunday.

Internal PN Survey shows relative majority of councillors want Delia out

The Times of Malta this morning quotes results from an internal PN survey, carried out by Misco, which has shown that just under half (46.5%) do not have trust in Adrian Delia as party leader. 41% think he should stay, with the remaining 12.5% undecided. The MISCO survey was carried out among 700 of the PN’s estimated 1,600 councillors in the past week.

When asked on their preferences as alternative party leader, the interviewees indicated Bernard Grech, Therese Comodini Cachia, Roberta Metsola, Mark Anthony Sammut and Alex Perici Calascione.

These same council members will be asked, on 1st August, to decide whether paid-up members (tesserati) will decide whether party members will confirm Delia as leader or
whether to go immediately for an open contest for which Delia has already confirmed he was going to contest.

Theuma intended to ‘bribe’ former Police Commissioner, claims Maltatoday

Self-confessed Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma intended to pass on €15,000 to former Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar in his bid to
obtain a presidential pardon, ahead of his arrest on a money laundering charge, Maltatoday reveals this morning.

The paper says that the claim was made by Theuma himself in one of the conversations he recorded secretly, and which he later gave to police after his arrest in November 2019, when he turned State’s evidence to reveal the truth into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia murder.

MIA President warns on pitfalls of greylisting

In an exclusive interview with the Times of Malta, Malta Institute of Accountants President Fabio Axisa said that damage to Malta’s reputation has reached significant levels and the potential grey-listing of the country would spell disaster on the financial services sector painstakingly built over the  past decades.

Axisa scalls for relentless work to to identify further problems and take decisions, no matter the cost. He also insisted that the financial services sector should never again be
treated as a political ball “reverting back to the position years ago which was so fundamental to our success in this area.”

In other news developing through yesterday:

Labour Deputy Leadership: Daniel J. Micallef has been confirmed as Deputy Leader for Party Affairs of the Partit Laburista. In an election to fill in the recently vacated post, previously occupied by Chris Cardona,  Micallef secured an almost unanimous approval with  only 2% voting against. There were 634 yes votes, 13 no votes, three abstentions and six invalid votes.

Coronavirus in Malta: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne appealed for caution despite zero cases of coronavirus registered yesterday. In a post on his social media, the Health Minister said that despite today’s Zero COVID19 cases, his appeal is for prudence and responsibility: continuing Malta’s success depends on each and every one of us. Despite these appeals, at least four major weekend-long parties remain scheduled in Malta during the coming weeks.

Caruana Galizia Murder: Melvin Theuma, the self-confessed middleman in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, remains in a “stable” condition at Mater Dei Hospital’s Intensive Therapy Unit, the police said in a statement yesterday evening.

Economy: The annual rate of inflation in June rose 0.72 percent compared with the same month the year before. Figures by the National Statistics Office show that inflation as measured by the Retail Price Index, increased from 0.66 percent in May. The 12-month moving average rate was 1.20 percent, the lowest rate in the first six months this year. Food prices were the highest contributors to the increase in inflation in June.

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