Latest Updates – Malta News Briefing – Monday 8 February

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Latest Update- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that Former minister Konrad Mizzi refused to answer questions about a deal to privatise three state hospitals for fear of self-incrimination when he testified in court on Monday.

MaltaToday reports that criminologist Sandra Scicluna believes mandatory prison sentences are exacerbating the country’s drug problem rather than solve it.

Newsbook reports that  six ENGOs: ROTA, Din l-Art Helwa, FAA, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta and Friends of the Earth Malta have expressed their concern at the proposed plans for the Msida Creek area.

TVM reports that Malta has now received the third vaccine against Covid-19 with the arrival of the first consignment of the vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca last night at 11pm. 

Updated 1245

Update 1240 – Covid-19 Update

137 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Sunday, with 126 persons recovering. This means that active cases edge up again to 2,352. The cases were identified through 3,266 tests being carried out yesterday. No Covid-19 deaths were reported on Sunday, meaning the fatality tally remains unchanged at 282.

39,218 doses of the Covid-19 vaccination were given until yesterday, almost 25% of which being a second dose.

Updated 1119: Industrial production improves in December, but still below 2019 levels

In December 2020, the seasonally adjusted index of industrial increased by 0.7 per cent over the previous month, but was still 4.2% lower than the correspondent month in 2019.

According to NSO data published this morning, on a monthly basis, production increases were registered across all the main industrial groupings namely energy (8.3 per cent), capital goods (3.2 per cent), consumer goods (0.9 per cent) and intermediate goods
(0.1 per cent)

Looking at a yearly comparison, decreases were registered in the production of energy (15.2 per cent), consumer goods (4.1 per cent) and capital goods (3.3 per cent). On the other hand, intermediate
goods’ production increased by 4.7 per cent.

Updated 1100 – Malta’s minimum wage close to EU average

Malta’s minimum wage (€785 a month) ranked in the middle when compared to other EU countries, Eurostat reported. As of 1 January 2021, 21 out of the 27 Member States of the EU have national minimum wages.

In January 2021, ten Member States, located in the east of the EU, had minimum wages below €700 per month: Bulgaria (€332), Hungary (€442), Romania (€458), Latvia (€500), Croatia (€563), Czechia (€579), Estonia (€584), Poland (€614), Slovakia (€623) and Lithuania (€642).

Based on the last available data from the four-yearly Structure of Earnings Survey, in 2018 minimum wages represented over 60% of the median gross monthly earnings in only four Member States: France (66%), Portugal (64%), Slovenia (62%) and Romania (61%). By contrast, minimum wages were less than half of the median earnings in six Member States: Croatia, Czechia and Latvia (all 49%), Spain (44%), Malta (43%) and Estonia (42%).

Updated 0840 – Newspaper Review

The Times reveals that an internal audit by Enemalta on the Montenegro wind farm found a series of due diligence omissions and a lack of professional scepticism by the members of the board towards the deal.

L-Orizzont speaks with Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina about stray animals abandoned by their keepers. Bezzina said that people should not underestimate the costs involved in keeping domestic animals.

The Independent reports that authorities in Malta are not following up on recovered Covid- 19 patients to study the longer term effects of the disease. The American Medical Association discovered that one in ten cured patients develops enduring symptoms.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that the party has a strategy for clean energy generation and pledged that a Nationalist government would buy power produced by households at the same price that ARMS charges per unit.

L-Orizzont reports that a crew member has died aboard a Maltese-registered ship after it was hit by a powerful wave outside Nova Scotia. Three other members suffered injuries and the crew is currently being treated for shock in Halifax.

The Times says that a farmers’ association is urging more collaboration with supermarkets to guarantee local food supply. The efforts follow comments by the Finance Minister that he had concerns about the possibility of food shortage last year.

In-Nazzjon quotes survey results by Malta Today showing that the difference in trust ratings between the Opposition Leader and the Prime Minister has narrowed down to 6.6 points, registering an increase for the former and a decrease for the latter.

The Independent quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said that it would be a mistake to focus on a general election at this time. He said the government has a responsibility to lead until the end of its term. 

Morning Briefing

AstraZeneca vaccine reaches Malta

The first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine against coronavirus has reached Malta on Sunday. Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne made the announcement on Twitter, describing it as “another cannon” against the virus.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine was the third to be approved in the EU, following Pfizer’s and Moderna’s.

Covid19 Update

100 new COVID cases were detected between Saturday and Sunday. A further three patients died, meaning the virus death toll now stands at 282. The latest victims are two men aged 93 and 77 and a 77-year-old woman. They all died at Mater Dei Hospital.

Don’t repeat Christmas risks on Covid-19: PM

The Prime Minister Robert Abela has called on people to abide by COVID-19 mitigation measures ahead of carnival weekend. Abela was speaking during a Labour Party conference being held in Siggiewi.

The PM called on people to not repeat the mistakes of the festive season, which saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in the weeks that followed. The PM said the government is set on continuing to raise standards in good governance and rule of law. He announced that eight new members of the judiciary will be added to the bench, with four new judges and four new magistrates. Abela said the investment will cost around €2 million.

Major Government deals are dubious – Grech

The Electrogas deal and the concession of three hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare benefits only “a select few” close to the Labour administration, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said. Speaking at a rally held in Birkirkara on Sunday, Grech stated that the health, energy, environment and financial services sectors are all weighed down by dubious deals penned by the Labour administration. He promised that a PN government would end “injustices suffered every day” because the government wishes to continue “stealing money from people’s pockets”.

Life of unborn child is not parents’ property – Gozitan bishop

The life of an unborn child cannot be considered to be the property of its parents, Gozo Bishop Anton Teuma said on Sunday. Bishop Teuma was delivering a homily at the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, in a Mass which also saw him perform the Rite of Blessing of a Child in the Womb. The Bishop said that people often felt as though children could come at will, but experience showed otherwise: that a child is a gift from God.

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