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Malta-24 News Briefing – Thursday 17th September 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1720 – News Portal Review

TVM says 35 new cases of Covid-19 have been identified in Malta over the past 24 hours after 2,536 swab tests were carried out. 601 cases are presently active.

MaltaToday reports Prime Minister Robert Abela said Malta needs “concrete action” by the EU on migration, as he accompanied European Council President Charles Michel on an army helicopter that took them on a flight over the Maltese islands.

Times of Malta says a 28-year-old man died in a traffic accident in Nadur on Thursday. The accident happened in Triq ir-Rabat at 12.45pm. An inquiry is being held. The police are investigating.

The Malta Independent reports Coop Services have released a video showing how Malta’s school vans will be fumigated every week when the scholastic year gets going, while also giving details about daily, trip-by-trip procedures.

Newsbook says the Malta Employer’s Association, MEA has published the document with its proposals for the national budget 2021. In a statement accompanying the document, MEA said that the recommendations were already submitted to the MCESD in August.

Updated 1232 – Active Covid-19 cases surpass 600 again

The Health Ministry reported 35 new cases of coronavirus in Malta, identified through 2,536 swab tests carried out in the past 24 hours. With 25 persons recovering, the number of active cases has once again gone over the 600 mark.

The Ministry said that almost half of yesterday’s cases, 51, were identified from the St Joseph Home cluster.

Meanwhile, the Malta Chamber has called for an urgent meeting of the MCESD to discuss the current COVID crisis and suggested that reducing the contagion needs to become a national priority. “In the interest of the physical and economic health of the country, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry calls for the introduction of new stronger measures, to urgently contain the recent spike in virus contagion numbers”, it said in a statement today.

Updated 0910 – Newspaper Review

The Malta Business Weekly says that Malta reported the second-lowest increase in hourly labour costs in the EU in between April and June. Compared to Q2 2019, labour costs rose by 0.8 percent in Malta and by 4.1 percent in the EU.

Business Today leads with the setting up of an initiative by the iGaming European Network to promote jobs in the industry among Maltese residents. The paper says that there are currently around 700 vacant positions in Malta-based gaming companies.

The Times quotes Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci who said that the current coronavirus count in Malta is ‘very high’ and made appeals for people to observe social distancing and wear masks.

The Independent says that Malta registered a record number of 106 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, 24 of which were discovered in a Fgura home for the elderly. There were 22 recoveries and the number of active cases is 591.

In-Nazzjon says that the surge in Covid-19 cases in nursing homes for the elderly is causing alarm among vulnerable people who have already been through a difficult experience of isolation in the previous months.

The Times follows the testimony of Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne in the Caruana Galizia public inquiry on Wednesday who said that, as Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat had refused to discuss the position of his chief of staff Keith Schembri following the Panama Papers leaks.

L-Orizzont follows the State of the Union address by EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen who said that the EU is committed to provide a Covid-19 vaccine to all countries, not only to those that can afford it.

The Independent speaks to Infrastructure Malta about delays in the Marsa Junction project. The roads agency said that a Covid-19 outbreak among 21 people working on site came at a critical point in the implementation.

In-Nazzjon quotes the president of teachers’ union, Marco Bonnici, who said that the safety codes issued by the government do not properly address the issues related to the spread of the virus in schools, colleges, or universities.

L-Orizzont says that the teachers’ union is calling for the postponement of the reopening of schools following a surge in coronavirus cases. Union president Marco Bonnici is demanding talks with the Education Ministry to discuss safety protocols.

The Malta Business Weekly quotes the Financial Services Authority which assured that the banking sector and the Trustees and Company Service Provider in Malta are fully compliant with international requirements.

Business Today reports that a joint project between Bank of Valletta and the Malta Development Bank to support the liquidity needs of businesses has approved over €190 million for 265 companies.  

Morning Briefing

Migration, rule of law on top of agenda in EU Council President visit

EU Council President Charles Michel said that the EU should provide further resources for border control, cooperation with third countries and better asylum mechanism during a meeting with Maltese PM Robert Abela.

The latter highlighted the challenges being faced by Malta, noting that Libya was a helpful partner on the matter. Abela said that the EU must support the North African country, both by facilitating the kickstarting of oil production as well as the provision of more resources for its coast gurard.

To do this, oil production needs to be kickstarted in Libya once again. Libya’s coast guard also needs more resources. And ultimately the criminal groups that profit from migrant smuggling need to be addressed.

On the subject of rule of law, Abela said that this was one of his main priorities on taking over his position and that substantial progress has been registered. 

Michel also visited the Armed Forces of Malta’s Air Wing in Luqa. Together with Prime Minister Robert Abela and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri, Michel was taken on board an AFM helicopter for a surveillance flight, during which Abela said that it was a rare sight that no boat carrying migrants was identified during the flight.

Covid-19 Update

Health authorities reported a record number of coronavirus cases in Malta, 106, the first-ever three-digit increase since the onset of the crisis.

The authorities said that this number was found from 2,470 tests. From yesterday’s cases, 35 were related to existent clusters.

Prof Charmaine Gauci said that “a number of today’s new cases are from homes from the elderly, while a good number are sporadic. These are the worrying cases as they are the ones that spread in the community. Several are related to workplace and family clusters,” she added.”

Teachers’ Unions request re-opening of school postponement

In the wake of yesterday’s developments, both major educators’ unions have pushed for a postponement of the re-opening of schools, currently scheduled for the last week of September.

“The MUT is not satisfied that the implementation of measures proposed for schools will protect effectively the health and safety of all concerned… as things stand, schools are simply not ready to reopen and solutions are lacking,” the union said

On its part the UPE said that “the situation is unsustainable and with the opening of schools on the 28th of September 2020, the number of cases will definitely increase to unsustainable numbers thus putting a burden on our health care system”.

The Union also reserved the right to issue industrial action on its members if this request is denied.

CDE News

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