Malta-24 News Briefing – Thursday 3rd September August 2020

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Updated 1745 – News Portal Review

TVM says 34 new cases of Covid-19 have been identified in Malta over the past 24 hours after 2,438 swab tests were carried out. Ten cases were also identified among migrants in detention centres.

MaltaToday reports how Daniel Muka was wearing a chain he allegedly stole from a man he had murdered when police arrested him in Floriana, a court heard on Thursday. Muka, an Albanian national, stands accused of murdering Chris Pandolfino and Ivor Maciejowski at their Sliema house on 18 August.

Times of Malta says the union of professional educators will be launching an industrial dispute over the publication of guidelines for the safe reopening of schools, noting that there are discrepancies between the document published and what could be achieved practically for a classroom to function.

The Malta Independent reports that until 1 September, consumers had spent €25.8 million in €100 vouchers issued by the government plus an additional €11.5 million, for a total of €37.3 million, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said Thursday.

Newsbook says eleven organisations are calling on the Government to reconsider its decision to ignore its electoral pledge to offer a fast-ferry service linking the Mġarr harbour to the Grand Harbour, in favour of a hop-on, hop-off ferry service.


Updated 1239 – Covid-19 Malta Update

34 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, following 2,438 swabs carried out over the same timeframe. 38 persons have recovered, meaning there are now 424 active cases.

From yesterday’s cases only 11 were linked to existent clusters, with the remainder being all sporadic cases.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said today that the €100 vouchers issued to families as part of the government’s post COVID-19 economic recovery plan have generated an additional spend of €11.5 million among consumers.

He noted that around 2.23 million €20 vouchers have been issued, with a total value of €44.6 million. Around 57.8% or 1.29 million vouchers have been used so far.  Earlier this week, Government extended the use of the vouchers till the end of October.

The Minister also announced tweaks in the Covid wage supplement, which has also been extended to end October.

Updated 0833 – Newspaper Review

Business Today reports that International Hotel Investments is forecasting a decrease in revenue of more than €175 million this financial year, projecting a €57.4 million loss for the hotel and properties group.

The Malta Business Weekly says that the new Maltese subsidiary of Ryanair, Lauda Europe, is set to start operating on September 13 with a flight from Palma de Mallorca to Memmingen. Lauda Europe is a technical wet-lease operator.

The Times says that an appeals court ordered Projects Malta to disclose the names of individuals who sat on the evaluation committee that awarded the state hospitals concessions to Vitals Global Healthcare in 2017.

The Independent announces an extension of the government wage supplement to businesses and the validity of consumers’ vouchers until the end of October, in time for new initiatives in the national budget.   

L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said that the government will announce long-term support measures for families and businesses in this year’s budget. He said that the pandemic is no reason to resort to austerity.

In-Nazzjon reports on fresh directives by the Union of Midwives and Nurses, accusing the government of not keeping its word on leave hours. The union said that staff shortage is endangering the lives of both members and patients.

Business Today says Bank of Valletta paid €26.5 million to Swedish private pension Falcon Funds to avoid further litigation. The Swedish Pensions Agency welcomed the settlement and said that the money will go back to savers.

The Malta Business Weekly reports that Lego sales grew by 14 percent in the first half of the year as more families spent time indoors during lockdowns. The Danish toy company invests heavily in direct-to-consumer channels.

The Independent reports that schools will reopen on September 28 under new safety guidelines. School staff and students aged 11 and over will be required to wear masks at all times.

The Times says that students will be kept in ‘bubbles’ to be able to contain the spread in the event of Covid-19 infections when schools open their doors at the end of the month. Classes will be smaller to allow a safe distance between desks. 

In-Nazzjon quotes a statement by the Teachers’ Union which said that the announcement of new school protocols is a first step, but the real test will be their implementation. Meanwhile, the Union of Professional Teachers said it is discussing the guidelines internally.

L-Orizzont says that the Prime Minister set December 15 as the final deadline for the Caruana Galizia public inquiry after the presiding magistrates requested an extension on the original date.  

The Malta Business Weekly says that more Covid-19 recoveries were registered than new infections for the ninth consecutive day on Wednesday, decreasing the number of active cases to 428.

Morning Briefing

Covid-19: Protocols for safe return to school announced

Government has announced detailed protocols to ensure the safe return of children to schools, with children aged between 3 and 11 having to wear masks only in communal areas, while older students will be required to have it on throughout the day.

Classes will be taught in smaller groups, with students being kept 1.5 metres away from each other. Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Education and Employment, Frank Fabri and Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said that these guidelines were based on WHO recommendations.

Children will be spending their class time as well as their break time in specially-designated bubbles to restrict the number of fellow students that they come in contact with.

Protocols have also been established for school transport, with Professor Gauci saying that windows should be kept open at all times and the names of students on each bus will be taken to make contact tracing can be facilitated if required.

In a statement, the Malta Union of Teachers said that “intensive discussions” on the matter are required. The Union of Professional Educators said that “it would never agree with any guidelines which might put people at risk.”

Meanwhile, the Health Department yesterday reported 22 new cases and 37 recoveries in the previous 24 hours, taking the country’s tally to 428 active cases.

Other news:

Migrant dies in Ħal Far: A migrant died on Wednesday after he fell while trying to escape from the Ħal Far closed centre, the government said.

Melvin Theuma: The middleman in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination who received a presidential pardon to turn state’s evidence, has been discharged from hospital after undergoing heart surgery, the police have confirmed.

Prisoner escapes: The police are on the lookout for a man who escaped while being escorted from court to the prisons. They said in a statement the man, a 27-year-old Sudanese, escaped from the car he was being driven in when this was in Aldo Moro Street, Marsa.

Muscat not being investigated: Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is not under any police investigation, according to PM Robert Abela. The latter was asked whether Muscat’s position as MP remains tenable after he was questioned by police in connection with statements about him being in connection with Yorgen Fenech.

“I will be closely following court proceedings and take decisions accordingly if there are further developments,” the PM said, who insisted that he will be taking tough decisions if necessary.

CDE News

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