Two more Covid victims in Malta as death count reaches 455 / Malta News Briefing – Monday 20 September 2021

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Times of Malta says drug runners used secret compartments hidden in cars to smuggle cocaine into Malta via a local ferry company, according to Italian court documents. 

MaltaToday reports that a school receptionist has been arraigned on charges of sexually harassing three members of security staff stationed on school premises.

Newsbook reports property which is rented out to band clubs from private owners will be bought by the government. This will be done in order to avoid a situation which may lead to their eventual eviction.

TVM says that the President of Malta George Vella has inaugurated a memorial dedicated to health care professionals at San Anton gardens.

Updated 1236 – Mid-Day Briefing

Covid-19 Update: 22 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday, while 32 recovered. Active cases now stand at 574, 22 of which require hospitalisation of the patient. During the last 24 hours, two persons a man and a woman aged 99 and 90 respectively, passed away while Covid positive, taking the death count to 455.

Former PM Muscat summoned in Yorgen Fenech trial

Yorgen Fenech and his legal team have summoned an array of high-profile witnesses as they prepare for the businessman’s defence in his murder trial. He faces a request for a life sentence as prosecutors charge him for complicity of murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. These include former PM Joseph Muscat, his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and former Minister Chris Cardona. No date for the trial has yet been set. The Tumas Group magnate denies the charges brought against him.

GTA welcomes airlink proposal

Gozo’s tourism operators have reacted positively to the Prime Minister Robert Abela’s pledge to have an air link between Gozo and Malta. The Gozo Tourism Association said that “one of its connectivity measures proposed along the years is on course to be realised”. The GTA agreed that an air link could serve as a catalyst for new economic activities.
It also reacted positively to the proposal of a fourth Gozo channel vessel: “these are all significant steps towards inter island connectivity… An all year round island tourist destination, like Gozo, can only be saleable if there are reliable, consistent, effective and cost sensitive types of connectivity from and to the mainland and from the outside world,” the GTA said in a statement.

Updated 1000 Chamber laments Consultation on Pharmacy Opening Hours is Lacking

In reaction to Health Minister Chris Fearne declaration that health authorities are in advanced discussions with stakeholders for pharmacies to introduce a roster system to also start opening on Sunday afternoons, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry insisted on Monday morning that the last correspondence that the it has had on the matter dates back to February 2020 and consists of a proposal made jointly with other stakeholders that provides for the enforcement of a roster for pharmacies to open on Sundays and Public Holidays, and for the service to be extended to a full day. No further communication on this proposal has been received since.

The Chamber, on behalf of its Lead Professional Pharmacists Business Section, urged the relevant authorities to consult with the relevant stakeholders before proceeding with implementation to ensure that the public is better served and that there is a level playing field between all pharmacies.

Updated 0900 Newspaper Review

The Independent says that the local councils’ association is proposing a gradual shift to point-based waste collection. Association president Mario Fava said that the current system of door-to-door collection creates accessibility and hygiene problems.  

The Times reports that the rate of Covid-19 infections among elderly people stood at 235 per 100,000 in the last 14 days, rising higher than that in younger age groups for the first time in months. Authorities observe a decline in immunity among people over 80s.

L-Orizzont leads with survey results about voting intentions that put the Labour Party ahead of the Nationalist Party by 25 percentage points, equivalent to a 40,000 majority. Asked about this, PN Leader Bernard Grech said the party’s duty is to keep moving forward.

In-Nazzjon follows an interview with PN Leader Bernard Grech by One News reporter Colin Deguara on Sunday. Grech criticised the Labour Party’s tactics and said the party knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

The Times reveals the Yorgen Fenech’s defence will summon former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and chief of staff at the time, Keith Schembri, to testify in this trial. Other witnesses are former minister Chris Cardona and head of police crimes investigations Silvio Valletta.

L-Orizzont quotes Health Minister Chris Fearne that the government is conducting a consultation to keep pharmacies on the Sunday roster open all day, not just in the morning. He said the people need to be served in their own communities.  

The Independent reports that the chairperson of the Planning Authority, Martin Saliba, has turned down an invitation for an interview. After a number of attempts, a spokesperson of the authority informed the newsroom that Saliba is not accepting interviews.

In-Nazzjon reports on the final preparations for the Independence Day celebrations by the PN this evening at the Granaries in Floriana. The event closes with an address by party leader Bernard Grech.

Morning Briefing

Health high on PL agenda

Health was high on the agenda of the Labour Party on Saturday with DPM Chris Fearne taking centre stage, promising that in the coming months Government will be investing heavily in the sector by increasing the accessibility of primary health care in towns and villages and by widening the list of medicines available to the public such as those for conditins related to mental health and IVF. Fearne revealed that “very soon Valletta will have its own health centre and come March next year, Gozo will have a brand new health centre in Victoria,” he added.

PN has long-term vision for country – Bernard Grech

PN leader Bernard Grech said the Nationalist Party had a long-term vision for the country, adding that this contrasted to Government’s solutions to import foreign labour once shortages bite, referring to the situation in the health and construction industry as an example of this. Pushed to provide a cost on the Hondoq land, which the PN is proposing to purchase, Grech refused to be drawn in the controversy suggesting that “the price of Hondoq is people’s health, and for people we do everything that is possible”.
Questioned by One journalist Colin Deguara on whether a coalition with the Green Party would be possible, Grech ruled out the possibility, insisting that the Nationalist flag would unite those who believe in the party’s message.

Covid-19 Update

There are currently 586 active cases of Covid-19 in Malta, 22 are being treated in hospital, while 3 are in Intensive Care. There were 20 new cases and 51 recoveries in the previous 24 hours.

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