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Malta-24 News Briefing Wednesday 5th August 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1630 – R factor at 1.39

Malta’s Covid-19 reproduction number has now exceeded 1, and stands at 1.39 according to statistician Vince Marmara, The Malta Independent reports.

Marmara noted that with there being increased local transmission of the virus, and transmission which is not merely restricted to clusters, it is now time to consider the past two weeks as a new cycle.

In comments to the Independent’s portal, Marmara said that on the basis that decisions have been taken on mass events, one hopes that the r-factor and number of cases does not increase.  If the increase does continue at the current rate, then more decisions will need to be taken to control the pandemic, Marmara said.

Updated 1555 – Fines for breaching of social distancing at mass events

According to a legal notice published today, mass event organisers who fail to observer the necessary social distaning rules will be fined €3,000 each. No more than one person for every square metres will be allowed according to regulations which came into force last week.

Updated 1401 – MUT calls for responsibility, says online learning can never replace education in class

MUT called for all stakeholders to assume responsibility to ensure that schools can re-open safely in September. In a statement, it said that “lack of thought and excessive triumphalism are unwarranted and may leave a substantial impact on school education in the coming months.”

It described the recent spike of the virus as worrying and recalled that schools are not able to offer the same social distancing and restrictive measures that other work environments can provide.

It therefore called for all decision-makers and stakeholders to keep in mind the educational needs of the country’s younger generation.

Updated 1243 – 20 new cases reported in Malta

The Health Department reported 20 new cases of coronavirus in Malta, 9 of which relating to previous clusters, while the rest being classified as sporadic. The tally of active cases has gone up to 249 after the inclusion of further cases among immigrants who disembarked in Malta over the past few days.

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Updated 0818  – Rule of law reforms “flawed and incomplete” says CoE rapporteur

Constitutional reforms enacted by Government in the past weeks, with the intention of strengthening the rule of law in Malta have been described as as “flawed and incomplete” by Council of Europe rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt.

Omtzigt, a Dutch MP, is the Council of Europe rapporteur on the rule of law in Malta and on the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He shared this opinion in an article on The Times of Malta today.

Updated 0814 – Newspaper Review

Malta Today reports on a series of recommendations by the Chamber of Commerce to support the travel and hospitality sector. Among the proposals, the Chamber is arguing for a reduction in VAT for businesses in the industry and a continued wage subsidy.

L-Orizzont quotes a report by the UN Refugee Agency which declares Libya an unsafe country for migrants to be returned to. The document publishes a series of witness accounts describing the ordeal and abuse migrants are made to go through.

The Times reports that the medical association is not satisfied with the government’s plans to contain Covid-19 following a meeting with the Health Ministry. Association president Martin Balzan refused to rule out industrial action over poor enforcement of protocols.

The Independent speaks with the president of the entertainment industry association, Howard Keith, who said it is unfair to hold event organisers responsible for the spike in coronavirus cases when safety measures have not been legally enforced.

In-Nazzjon reports that the number of active Covid-19 cases rose to 215 after another 14 new cases were registered on Tuesday. The paper says that the cause of infection in four of the cases has not yet been established.

L-Orizzont says that Prime Minister Robert Abela has called for a meeting of the Council for Economic and Social Development to discuss the recent developments in the fight against the coronavirus.

The Times quotes the Council of Europe’s Malta rapporteur, Peter Omtzigt, who said that the recent rule of law reforms are ‘flawed and incomplete’. He criticised the government for rushing the proposals through without consulting civil society.

In-Nazzjon says the PN Executive Committee approved the regulations for the election of the party leader, presented by the president of the internal Electoral Commission, Peter Fenech. The terms of the due diligence exercise have also been agreed.

The Independent reports that the PN Electoral Commission issued a call for applications for those interested in the leadership contest. Applications must be sent in writing to the commission by Monday afternoon.

Malta Today says that PN MPs opposing Adrian Delia have not agreed on a single candidate to contest the party leadership race after two days of talks. The paper reports that lawyer Bernard Grech and MEP Roberta Metsola appear frontrunners.

L-Orizzont follows a court case in which a 19-year-old breached his bail conditions to visit his underage girlfriend when she was going to give birth. Magistrate Victor Axiak warned that his actions could have serious consequences for him, the mother, and the baby.

Morning Briefing

Coronavirus in Malta – More migrants test positive

Sixteen from the ninety-one persons admitted to Malta yesterday, after being rescued, tested positive for Covid-19 after being isolated and swabbed for Coronavirus. 

The Ministry of Health said that as per standard procedure, migrants arriving by boat are immediately quarantined and tested. The migrants who tested positive will continue to be isolated at the Ħal Far Initial Reception Centre and the rest will remain in quarantine and followed up.

Doctors to proceed with industrial action

Following an ongoing tit-for-tat on the current situation which continued yesterday – with Government blaming migrants for the recent spike in cases, while doctors repeatedly pointed out at the organisation of mass events, the Medical Association of Malta has announced that it will proceed with the proposed industrial action as from tomorrow, for a period of seven days.

This action will include the postponement of all outpatients appointments at Mater Dei, the postponement of elective surgery with the exception of urgent and cancer surgery and the closure of all 42 community clinics.

In a statement, doctors said: “Rather than control the epidemic the government of Malta, against the advice of the superintendent of public health has decided to forge ahead with multiple mass events including those for thousands of people. Furthermore, parties and standing up events similar to the party at Radisson can still go ahead. What all the other EU countries are strictly prohibiting, our authorities are doing exactly the opposite.”

Ireland removes Malta from safe list

Ireland has announced that it no longer considers travelers from Malta as safe, and it therefore removed the country from its green list.

Persons travelling from Malta will have to quarantine for a fortnight.

Baltic countries Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have also imposed placed restrictions on Malta arrivals.

CDE News

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