20 cases of Covid-19 as active tally dips below 500: Malta News Briefing – 24 April 2021

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Update 1230

Covid-19 Update

Active Covid-19 cases in Malta have fallen below 500 for more than half a year, after 20 new cases were reported on Saturday. Some 58 patients recovered, meaning that 476 persons are currently infected. No deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

SME Chamber wants vouchers for retail outlets

The SME Chamber has called on government to allocate the next round of vouchers in retail outlet rather than hotels and restaursnts. “They cannot wait any longer. Retail outlets need strong consumption to make up the losses they have suffered over the last six weeks,” the CEO of the Malta Chamber of SMEs, Abigail Mamo, said.

Non-essential outlets, including clothes and beauty shops, will re-open Monday. Speaking to The Times of Malta, Mamo said: “Businesses have been gearing up and preparing for weeks to reopen and they need the vouchers to help boost sales”.

Scope gives Malta A+ rating

Scope Ratings, a German credit rating agency, has reconfirmed Malta’s A+ rating.

The agency stated that, despite the pandemic, various important sectors including informatics, continued to grow and our country has the potential of a strong growth. It praised the Government’s financial assistance package, which it said will next year permit the country to suprass again the level of national wealth that prevailed before the pandemic.

Scope Ratings also referred to the European funds package that Malta acquired for the coming years which, it added, will assist in the financing of essential projects. The German analysts predicted that the country will recover economically in 2022 and that debt will start decreasing again.

Newspaper Review

The Independent reports on a court decision ruling that a garnishee order on commercial assets owned by Keith Schembri caused moral damages to the former chief of staff and company directors, awarding them €300 each.

The Times says that Judge Lawrence Mintoff has awarded former chief of staff Keith Schembri and various directors in his companies €300 in moral damages over the freezing of assets ordered by the courts.

L-Orizzont says that 96,631 people have been administered the full dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Public Health Superintendent said that nearly 60 per cent of people in the 50-59 age group received the jab in two weeks.

In-Nazzjon quotes the CEO of the federation of English language schools, Caroline Tissot, who expressed satisfaction that the industry was recognised in the newly-launched strategy for tourism launched by the PN.

The Times quotes Chamber of SMEs president Abigail Mamo who advised government to prioritise a voucher scheme for the retail sector over bars and restaurants. Mamo said that shops need robust consumption to recover heavy losses.

The Independent says that the Lands Authority is investigating reports of squatters occupying Fort Binġemma. The site was leased to a family in 1981 until the contract was terminated in 2009, but the occupants have since refused to leave.  

In-Nazzjon reports that citizenship advisory firm Arton Capital had filed a case against the Labour Party accusing it of abuse in the selection process of a concessionaire for the IIP scheme. Rival company Henley & Partners was chosen by the government to run the programme.

L-Orizzont speaks to doctors who dismiss fears that the Covid-19 vaccine causes shingles. Recent cases of shingles in Israel raised concerns about the effects of vaccination, but the scientific community found no link between the two.

Morning Briefing

Maltese citizens most confident of economic recovery

Maltese citizens are among the most optimistic regarding the country’s recovery, a Eurobarometer survey has shown.
The research survey was conducted between February and March and showed that 32% were confident of economic recovery in the coming year while 54% believed recovery will be achieved in 2023. Those surveyed believed an economic recovery before the EU average and in fact 25% the country will recover during 2022.

The study has also shown that the cost-of-living and health matters were the issues of the greatest concern for locals. Almost 90% of Maltese surveyed affirmed the EU had a high impact on assuring the country’s anti-Covid vaccine, the second highest rating following Cyprus.

The image of the EU and the trust in it have increased and are now at their highest levels in more than a decade. Almost one in two citizens trusts the European Union (49%), a 6-point increase since the Standard Eurobarometer of Summer 2020, while 46% of citizens have a positive image of the EU. In the current circumstances, Europeans identify health and the economic situation as the two top concerns at EU and national levels.

Rate of Covid-cases declines

Malta’s rate of new COVID-19 cases has continued to decline throughout the past week. During the weekly coronavirus briefing, Health Superintendent Prof Charmaine Gauci revealed that he seven-day moving average of new virus cases is currently at 39, down from 50 last week.
This represents a 24 per cent week-on-week decline in average new virus cases and 30 per cent drop from the situation two weeks ago.

The number of virus patients receiving care in medical facilities currently stands at 74, data provided by Gauci showed, although the number of patient requiring intensive care remained stable. 33 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Friday, while one patient a 93 year old woman, died. The number of active cases is now 513 after 38 persons recovered. The death toll now stands at 412.

More than 300,000 vaccine doses had been administered so far, with almost one-third being second doses, meaning 100,000 fully vaccinated persons.

Tech agreement with Italian Unversities

Tech.Mt, the University of Malta and eight Italian universities renowned in the fields of Computer Studies and Technolog have signed an agreement to establish cooperation links between them. The participating Italian Universities, ranking among the top 20 Universities, are the: Università degli Studi de Camerino, Universita’ degli Studi di Catania, Universita’ degli Studi di Ferrara, Universita’ degli Studi di Genova. Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, Universita’ degli Studi di Perugia, Universita’ del Piemonte Orientale and Universita’ degli Studi di Verona.

Minister for the Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri, who presided over the agreement said: “this cooperation agreement shall open doors to exciting opportunities for current and future tech graduates as well as the exploration and growth of digital economy and a wider spectrum through reaching a strong human resource.

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