48 new cases of coronavirus – Malta News Briefing – Friday 9 April 2021

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Times of Malta reports that tourists booking summer holidays to Malta directly through local hotels will receive a financial handout.

MaltaToday reports that Repubblika alleged that Nigel Vella occupied two full-time government jobs simultaneously, but the Standards Commissioner found that one of those jobs was part-time, with no ethics breach having taken place

TVM reports that from Monday, visits to care homes will once again be allowed where 90% of residents have been vaccinated, and two weeks have passed since they took the second dose. The visits will be by appointment once a week with two relatives who live in the same household allowed to enter.

Newsbook reports that many elderly persons who went to health clinics for the Covid-19 vaccine were turned away due to vaccinations running out.

Updated 1235 – No Covid-deaths reported

New coronavirus cases reported on Friday reached 48, with 53 new recoveries. This lowers the active case tally to 549. The infections were reported from 2,049 swabs. No deaths were registered in the past 24 hours.

Updated 1150 – Imports, exports decrease

During the first two months of the year, the total trade in goods deficit, narrowed by €203.5 million when compared to the corresponding period of 2020, reaching €212.4 million, the NSO said today.

Both imports and exports decreased by €382.0 million and €178.4 million, respectively, and amounted to €706.4
million and €494.0 million, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continued to be felt. Lower imports were mainly recorded in Machinery and transport equipment (€182.0 million) and Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (€131.0 million), while on the exports side, Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (€128.4 million) accounted for
the main decline.

Maltese delegation visits Qatar for bilateral meetings

A Maltese delegation was in Qatar this week, headed by Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo, for discussions on the political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries. Meetings were held with Prime Minister Khalid Bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, and with Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.

Among other topics, they spoke about the relationship between Qatar and the European Union and the need for them to better understand each other and work together for the common good. They also addressed many regional issues of mutual importance, primarily the situation in Libya and the need to support the Government of National Unity, so as to improve the well-being of the Libyan people who are suffering so much in their daily lives with water shortages, high prices and little disposable income. Minister Bartolo stressed that such challenges need to be addressed in order for the Libyan people to build trust in their politicians.

Newspaper Review

The Times quotes a report by the Council of Europe which finds that Malta’s rate of incarceration rose by 15 percent between 2019 and 2020, the highest rate among 47 members countries.

The Independent says that EU health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides has turned down an appeal by Health Minister Chris Fearne for the EU to supply Sputnik doses in member states if the EU Medicines Authority clears the Russian vaccine.

L-Orizzont quotes a tweet by Health Minister Chris Fearne who revealed plans by the government to plant a woodland to commemorate the victims of the pandemic. The minister said the site will honour the sacrifices of the nation in a challenging period.

In-Nazzjon says that former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri will face cross-examination in court by Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers. The businessman denies all charges against him and alleges that Schembri was the mastermind in the Caruana Galizia murder.

The Independent reports that the total number of English language students last year was 16.491, a decrease of 80 percent compared with 2019. Data by the National Statistics Office shows January made up for a fifth of arrivals.   

In-Nazzjon says that athletes and sport organisations were disappointed to learn that restrictions on sport activities will remain in place. Competitions and championships in multiple disciples have been suspended for a second consecutive season.

The Times reports that activists and residents opposing the construction of a road in Dingli met with Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi, and Planning Authority head Martin Saliba on Wednesday to voice their objections.

L-Orizzont says that expenditure on social benefits increased by €79 million in one year, totalling €1.08 billion in 2020. The spend on old age pension grew by a minimum of €27 every week per beneficiary since 2013. 

Morning Briefing

Medicines Authority re-affirms safety of AstraZeneca vaccine

The Malta Medicines Authority has insisted that the benefits of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outweigh the risk of side effects. At the same time, it encouraged vaccinated people and healthcare professions to be aware of, and report, any side effects.

In a statement, the authority said that various organisations, including the World Health Organisation, the European Medicines Agency, the UK Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority, have all confirmed the vaccine’s safety and “the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh any risks.”

The recommendation is to continue to prevent serious harm and loss of life by using all the highly effective vaccines having an EU Marketing Authorisation, it said.

Airport CEO proposes Covid travel app

Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg proposed that tourists coming to Malta should be able to upload COVID-related documents in an app for verification by the authorities. He said that this would contribute to boosting consumer confidence in air travel, still suffering from the impact of the pandemic.

Borg expressed satisfaction with the vaccination drive, insisting this is Malta’s strongest selling point with airlines and travellers.

Recent data released by the NSO has shown that passenger traffic through MIA totalled 32,033 movements last March,a 93% drop compared to the same month in 2019.

Police, MTA investigating party-video

Authortities are investigating a video of a party that took place on Wednesday, most likely in breach of Covid-19 related measures.
The Police said that they are investigating the case together with the Malta Tourism Authority and that during the day they spoke to various people who are assisting them in the ongoing investigation.

The video started being shared during the day on social media and shows a group of young people dancing in a villa accompanied by music by a foreign DJ.

Fireworks can even be seen lighting the skies at one point, with various media sources indicating Joao Coronel – a member of ClubHouse Europe as the DJ taking care of the music on the night.

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