Malta News Briefing – Friday 24 December 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Covid Update

Malta hit another single-day record of newly detected COVID-19 cases on Friday when the health ministry reported 955 new infections. 

It is the third consecutive day that the number of new cases has hit record highs.

Morning Briefing

Covid-19: The latest developments

Covid-19 dominated the agenda on Thursday as the first two Omicron cases were reported by health authorities. Prof Charmaine Gauci said that these results reflected testing undertaken a few days back, meaning that this variant could be behind the recent exponential surge in cases. Deputy PM Chris Fearne insisted that hospitalisations remained low, at 53, with just three persons in ITU. “Experience teaches us to remain cautious, as when cases increase in the community, around 2-3 weeks later they are reflected in admissions to hospital”.

In view of the current situation, the vaccine certificate showing a booster jab has been taken will be required to access sporting events, cinemas, bars and restaurants from 17 January. The booster jab will be required three months after the second vaccine dose. As from Monday, all events can be held, but in seated format. The only exceptions will be for funerals and weddings. All establishments are to close at 1am. In a statement, the MHRA lamented that the new restrictions create uncertainty.

Sporting events have been closed to spectators until 17 Jan but schools will re-open normally after the holidays.

Prof Charmaine Gauci said the seven-day moving average is 392, suggesting that Omicron is to blame for the latest increase. She noted that yesterday over 733 new cases were reported on Thursday.

The New Year’s Eve show in Palace Square, Valletta has been cancelled in view of the COVID-19 situation, the Valletta Cultural Agency said on Thursday. The planned programme will instead be presented on television and carried on TVM, ONE and NET TV. This event has now been cancelled for the second year running.

Migrants allowed to enter Sicily

Italy will allow more than 200 migrants rescued in four operations off to enter a port of safety in Sicily. Malta had refused entry to the mgirants, with the Armed Forces telling Sea Eye, the German NGO that rescued the migrants, that “Malta is not in a position to provide you with a place of safety.”
The Church had appealed for the migrants to be allowed on shore, offering to shelther them itself. [Times of Malta]

Wage supplement may be extended

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the Covid-19 wage supplement being given to businesses will be revised nearing the end of January, and, if necessary, will be extended further. Speaking on radio, PM Abela insisted that health authorities have advised on looking at the increase in infections at the hospital and in the ITU, stating that the numbers are still stable. “We have saved last summer due to the actions we took with restrictions, now we have to save our winter as well, by taking the booster jab,” he argued. [Independent]

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