42 new Covid-19 cases / Malta News Briefing – Monday 12 April 2021

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Updated 1745- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that tourism authorities have not given the go-ahead to any mass events, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has said after a series of large-scale festivals set dates for late summer.

MaltaToday reports that Enforcement authorities have issued 1,261 to people found in breach of COVID-19 regulation in the past week. 

TVM reports that following the arraignment in Court last February of six persons in connection with alleged romance fraud, the Police resumed its investigations on this scheme.

Newsbook reports that Nationalist MP Toni Bezzina, the party’s spokesman for transport and infrastructure, was called in for questioning by the police economic crimes unit reportedly about a case dating back to 2012.

Updated 1235- Covid-19 Update

47 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday, with 52 persons recovering. 2,036 swab tests were carried out on Sunday. Active cases stand at 553. No new deaths were recorded, leaving the tally at 402.

Malta registers largest decline in retail trade

In the euro area in February 2021, compared with January 2021, the volume of retail trade increased by 6.8% for non-food products and by 3.7% for automotive fuels, while it decreased by 1.1% for food, drinks and tobacco. In the EU the volume of retail trade increased by 6.2% for non-food products and by 2.4% for automotive fuels, while it decreased by 0.8% for food, drinks and tobacco. The figures were released by Eurostat today.

Among Member States for which data are available, the highest increases in total retail trade were registered in Austria (+28.2%), Slovenia (+16.4%) and Italy (+8.4%). The largest decreases were observed in Malta ( 1.5%), France and Hungary (both 1.2%).

People requiring intensive care decline

The number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care has gone down to the lowest level since August, according to data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The rate of those admitted to hospital every week has declined to 0.77 patients per 100,000 people receiving care. According to The Times of Malta, the number of cases requiring intensive care has also dropped in recent weeks and is now similar to what was recorded during the first week of January. According to the ECDC data, the rate for ITU admissions is around 0.19 patients per 100,000 people.

Updated 0817 – Newspaper Review

The Independent speaks to the designated president of the federation of language schools, Caroline Tissot, who said that the government’s decision to keep English language schools will have a devastating effect on the sector.

L-Orizzont speaks to council members of band clubs who expressed concern about new fundraising rules introduced by the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations. The sources said the regulations will limit collection of donations.

The Times says that rules introduced to increase state oversight of fundraising in the voluntary sector will be scaled back following backlash from NGOs. Government sources said they will hold meetings with organisations before making new proposals.

In-Nazzjon follows an interview with PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that immigration policy should place the national interest first without trampling on the dignity of individuals.  Grech said that decisions must be taken seriously.

The Times says that the Gozo law courts failed an accessibility audit conducted by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability. The report recommends the instalment of stair and wheelchair lifts.

L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who warned that the country cannot miss another summer of tourism. Abela said that the next few weeks will be crucial for the management of the pandemic and appealed for caution.

The Independent covers an TV interview with Prime Minister Robert Abela who said that the government’s strategy to source vaccines from different manufacturers guaranteed continued supply.

In-Nazzjon quotes separate surveys published in the Sunday papers showing a “positive trend” for the Nationalist Party. Leader Bernard Grech recorded his best performance in trust ratings since his election, climbing to 35.8 on a national level. 

Morning Briefing

PM defends decision to ease restrictions slowly, promises further assistance

PM Robert Abela defended the decision to keep a number of social restrictions in place despite declining Covid-19 numbers, saying that the authorities had prioritised health, education and the elderly. Indicating that he understood the frustration of people such as business owners or sport enthusiasts that are unable to resume their operations so far, the PM insisted that “we simply cannot risk all the hard work we have done so far.”

“We know that there is fatigue and frustration. This has been a long marathon, but with the measures we have introduced and will continue to introduce we will ensure that everyone crosses the marathon’s finishing line,” he said.

Speaking on ONE, Abela revealed that the government would be announcing the new financial aid in the coming weeks. Abela admitted that the economy could face serious problems if Malta loses out on another summer of tourist activity. He explained that by focusing on three priority areas during the relaxation of COVID-19 preventive measures, Malta will be en route to have a summer of increased tourism and overall economic activity.

Referring to opinion surveys published on Sunday, giving a healthy lead to Labour and his leadership, Dr Abela said that the Government would not let the numbers go to its head and would keep its feet firmly on the ground and its hand on the nation’s pulse.

PN’s doors open to former members – Grech

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said that the Nationalist Party is willing to work with anyone who might have left the party in recent years. He was answering questions as to whether he would be willing to work with former MP Franco Debono. “There are a lot of people wo left us a few years ago, people like Franco Debono, so yes will explore all possible relationships with those whose views have changed about the party.

Grech also spoke at length on issues arising from Court, insisting tht presidential pardons on criminal activity should be considered as a last resort only. Referring to surveys published yesterday indicating a wide gap between the two parties, Grech acknowledged that further work is needed in the Nationalist Party to bolster voter support.

On immigration, he said that the PN wanted a balance between Malta’s interests and people’s fundamental rights and international obligations. Immigration must be addressed in the countries from where immigrants leave and not in Libya, he added.

Covid-19 Update

66 new cases were reported on Sunday, health authorities said, while 44 patients recovered, leaving 558 active cases. No deaths were reported. These cases were identified through 1,987 swab tests.
Meanwhile, some 240,984 doses of the vaccine were given until Saturday, of which 69,306 were second doses.
Today, Malta will see some restrictions being eased, with primary school children returning to class and non-essential surgeries to resume.