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Malta-24 News Briefing Tuesday 4th August 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1428 – Chamber of Pharmacists lambasts Government and tourism businesses

The Chamber of Pharmacists has taken Government to task for showing lack of respect for social partners and health experts through comments made in the media recently. The Chamber said it is flabbergasted at the PM’s stance and at the Tourism Minister on what it described as “puerile affirmations” related to mass events, whilst “playing with the lives of the populations, especially the most vulnerable ones and frontliners”.

The Chamber called for all concerned to focus on health so that Malta can revert to the excellent position of two weeks ago. Otherwise, it said, all the sacrifices made would have been in vain.

Updated 1414 – Chamber of Commerce calls for VAT reduction for tourism and hospitality

The Chamber of Commerce has today called for lower VAT rates on tourism and hospitality and an extension of the wage supplement scheme as part of recommendations for post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

Earlier this morning, it presented its vision for the next 24 months in a detailed presentation based on feedback received through twelve economic clusters.

Updated 1245 – PN calls for expression of interest for potential Party leader

The Nationalist Party’s electoral commission has formally issued a call for expressions of interest from potential candidates in the party’ leadership contest.  These are to submit their interest by Monday.

Applicants will need to be approved in a due diligence exercise before they can be declared candidates and no campaigning is allowed before that hurdle is overcome.

So far, incumbent leader Adrian Delia has confirmed to be in the running, while Therese Comodini Cachia and Roberta Metsola have publicly expressed interest.

Updated 1238 – 16 new cases of coronavirus

The Health Department said that 16 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, resulting from 1,502 swabs. This takes the number of active cases up to 215.

12 of these cases are related to previous clusters while the other are sporadic ones.

Malta’s tally has now gone up to 890.

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Updated 0920  – MAM says unfair that PM blames migrants for spike in cases

The Malta Medical Association reacted this morning to comments made by Prime Minister Robert Abela yesterday on One TV, where he had implied that the spike in coronavirus cases was attributable to migrants disembarking in Malta.

The doctors’ union argued that the government’s decision to allow mass events like parties, despite the contrary, expert advice of the superintendent for public health, was the only cause of this spike since migrants have been quarantined immediately and therefore did not give rise to community infections.

“In fact, the European centre for Disease Control data does not include migrant data,” the association retorted.

Updated 0909 – Newspaper Review

L-Orizzont reports that EU ministers have discussed the recent right in migration into Europe and said that the Malta Agreement about sharing of arriving immigrants reached in 2019 is not working.

The Independent carries an interview with Hotels and Restaurants Association president Tony Zahra who said that the country may have lifted restrictions too quickly after reports that Latvia and Ireland could take Malta off the safe destinations list.

The Times reports that schools are set to re-open on September 28, but education authorities are setting up contingency plans for online learning in case the day is pushed back by another outbreak of coronavirus.

In-Nazzjon says that the Foreign Affairs Ministry filed for a police investigation into Neville Gafa’ following complaints by Italian journalist Nello Scavo who said the former OPM official was threatening him.

The Independent says no contender for the PN leadership has confirmed intentions to challenge Adrian Delia as the party today opens a call for applications. Therese Comodini Cachia, Roberta Metsola, Joe Giglio and Bernard Grech are touted to be interested.

The Times reports that PN MPs met on Monday afternoon to discuss the results of the General Council vote. Sources told the paper that the group is trying to find the candidate with the widest appeal.

In-Nazzjon says that coronavirus cases have soared to 188 in ten days raising concerns among vulnerable people and their families. Prime Minister Robert Abela told the paper that the government’s decisions were successful.

L-Orizzont says that current and former PN officials have come out to defend MP Jason Azzopardi after Yorgen Fenech’s mother published a photo on Facebook showing the MP at her son’s wedding in 2009.

In-Nazzjon reports that Caritas has helped over 730 people with drug addictions last year. The most used drug was cocaine followed by heroin, but 2019 registered the largest increase in the number of people with cannabis additions.

Morning Briefing

Coronavirus in Malta: Situation is under control – PM Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela insisted yesterday evening that the situation in Malta regarding the coronavirus is under control. While acknowledging a rise in the infection rates, he insisted that it was important to highlight the fact that the majority of people who are infected are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

The interview was broadcasted on Labour media.

Abela attributed the spike in reported COVID-19 cases to the inclusion of rescued migrants who tested positive for the virus and disagreed with a link between the new cases and a number of large-scale parties and gatherings.

Malta currently has 199 active COVID-19 cases, 88 of whom are migrants who were rescued last week. Despite these numbers, Abela argued that a balance between health and the economy has been sought. He called on the public to remain prudent, vigilant and follow the advice given by the Health Authorities, without raising any extra alarm or panic.

PN Leadership race

As the Nationalist Party prepares itself for a new leadership race which it hopes to conclude before Independence Day celebrations in six weeks times, the group of MPs pushing for a change in leadership have held a meeting yesterday afternoon to seek a unity candidate which can take on current leader Adrian Delia.

Speaking to timesofmalta.com, Karol Aquilina, a PN MP said that: “our objective is to give party members a clear choice of who can bring back unity”. The portal said that the parliamentary group would try to persuade all those harbouring leadership hopes to ditch their ambitions and rally behind a single candidate enjoying widest support.

The PN’s Electoral Commission is expected to issue the call today to kick-off the process, which will see around 20,000 paid-up members being asked to submit their choice for a new leader of the party.

Education Department factors in possibility of remote schooling

The Education Department has published a new syllabus implementation plan to take into consideration to possible failure to re-open schools after the summer holidays. So far, Education Minister Owen Bonnici has publicly committed himself to re-opening classrooms on 28th September, describing it as a normal school day. However, such comments were made previous to the recent escalation in cases.

The guidelines include three scenarios, including a full re-opening of schools, an alternating system were reduced number of students attend every day, and the possibility of remote schooling being the only feasible option.

CDE News

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