Four persons die of Covid-19 / Malta News Briefing – Saturday 17 April 2021

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Covid-19: Coronavirus cases have increased after the dip of the past few days, reaching 67 on Saturday. Health authorities reported 38 recoveries. Four people died, including three men aged 61, 77 and 79 and 63-year-old woman This means that 409 persons have now lost their lives after contracting coronavirus.

Benefit for parents: Government said that more than1,100 parents of children under-16 and children with severe disability have benefited from the Covid temporary benefit due to the closing of schools. 1,422 parents applied for the benefit, which means that almost 78% of applicants resulted eligible and were paid.

The Family and Children’s Rights Ministry said that this meant an allocation of some €580,000.

Nine NGOs want Prof Axiak gone: A number of NGOs have demanded the removal of the Environmental Resources Authority’s chairperson Prof Victor Axiak, calling him an “ally of developers”. Nine organisatons called on Government to remove Axiak following “a spate of abysmal decisions.”

NGOs highlighted what they described as Axiak’s “alliance with developers and roadbuilders, reflected in a series of shocking decisions with regard to the uprooting of 300-year old carob trees in Dingli, the greenlighting of the disastrous works in Comino, the refusal to commission an EIA for the Msida Creek project, and a series of decisions and statements taken in the planning board.”

Newspaper Review

The Independent leads with the cross-examination in court of Vince Muscat on Friday who mentioned an aborted plot to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia between 2014 and 2015. He said that at the time he had taken George Degiorgrio to speak with minister Chris Cardona.

The Times follows the testimony of state witness Vince Muscat who revealed that the hitmen turned to then minister Chris Cardona for help with their plan to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia. He said Cardona could provide information on the journalist’s movements.

In-Nazzjon quotes state witness Vince Muscat who said that the executioners of the plot on Caruana Galizia were instructed to wait until after the 2017 general election. The killers were paid €50,000 each.

L-Orizzont reports on the vote in parliament to amend the Constitution to widen the participation of women in the Chamber. The reform guarantees that a minimum 40 percent of MPs in the next legislature are women.  

The Independent reports the lowest number of new Covid-19 cases registered in a single day since the end of September. Health authorities on Friday announced 27 new infections and 30 recoveries.

In-Nazzjon says that the PN launched a process of formulating an electoral programme for young people. In a meeting with the party youth sections, leader Bernard Grech invited members to plan for better quality of life.

The Times reports that the Inland Revenue department has launched an investigation into Birkirkara football club after the European football governing body flagged irregular tax documents submitted by the club.

L-Orizzont says that the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh will take place today. Prince Philip had a special bond with Malta, it was he who handed the formal documents declaring the country’s independence in 1964.

Morning Briefing

Incentives for small tourism businesses

Government has launched two new incentives to boost small tourism operators and the conference sector as it seeks to recover from the pandemic. Tourism minister Clayton Bartolo said that the first scheme will see guest houses, boutique hotels, holiday furnished premises, hostels and 2-star hotels benefit from €1.5 million to carry out marketing campaigns.
Guest Houses and boutique hotels are eligible for up to €1,000, 2-star hotels €500, and hostels and holiday apartments €250 for every property owned. Government is targeting the 1st of June to re-open the industry.

Construction claims second victim in a week

Construction claimed another victim on Friday as a 59-year old worker died after falling from a height of around five storeys while working on the roof of a property in Żabbar. According to a police statement, the man, hailing from Zejtun, was certified dead on site. An inquiry is being held.
This was the second death in three days, with a 38-year old Albanian man losing his life in Marsascala.

20% of catering establishments have closed down

In a study conducted by the Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) in collaboration with a number of suppliers it transpires that between March 2020 and March 2021 approximately 19 percent of establishments closed down . This staggering figure confirms the studies that the ACE had done in 2020 whereby 24 percent of the establishments declared that they are considering to close shop. An additional 12 percent have put their operation on sale or to rent.
“Despite the clarity in statistics and the statements made by Health officials that Restaurants are not the cause, the Health Authorities have decided to discriminate against these depriving them from their daily bread”, the ACE said.

In a statement, ACE said that catering establishments have been unjustly made to close in spite of all statistics showing that the Covid 19 spread is not related to restaurant opening. “Despite the clarity in statistics and the statements made by Health officials that Restaurants are not the cause, the Health Authorities have decided to discriminate against these depriving them from their daily bread.”

Covid-19 Update

Health authorities reported 27 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the lowest tally for more than six months. 30 persons recovered, meaning the active case tally remained stable at 583. Two men died between Thursday and Friday, taking the death count to 405.

CDE News

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