Malta News Briefing – Sunday 18 July 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Headline Update (1910h) – Minister for the Elderly Michael Farrugia has tested positive to Covid-19. The minister announced the infection on his Facebook page. The minister said he will be in quarantine for the next two weeks. Malta Independent

An African man was attacked by a gang of 15 men, beaten, punched and thrown into the sea in Gozo, egged on by a cheering crowd from nearby catering establishments, according to a social media post.  The possible racially motivated attack on “a guy from Somalia” at Mġarr harbour in Gozo around 1am is being investigated by the police. Times of Malta

COVID-19 Update

Malta reported 195 new coronavirus cases and 5 recoveries. The total number of active cases is 1832.

Prime Minister Robert Abela, on Sunday said low number of COVID-19 cases currently in hospital confirms that “the situation is under control” despite rocketing tallies of daily new infections.

The prime minister also criticised the Opposition for what he said is a “refusal to work with the government to improve Malta’s reputation”. 

“The Opposition does not want to give its contribution to improve Malta’s reputation. Despite this, we will continue carrying out reforms,” he said, referring to a law in parliament that failed to pass through because of the Opposition’s vote. – Times of Malta

Opposition leader Bernard Grech has criticised the Prime Minister’s defence of Joseph Muscat, who had to step down as Prime Minister himself in the midst of a political crisis in 2019.

During a telephone interview on the PN-owned Net FM, Grech said that by continuing to defend Muscat, Abela defends all the damage that Muscat and his colleagues caused in previous years. – MaltaToday

Newspaper Review

Malta Today reports on a case presided by the Chief Justice who criticised the Attorney General and the police force for delays in prosecutions related to the 2013 Enemalta oil scandal. The Chief Justice said that no evidence was presented in two-thirds of sittings.

The Sunday Times quotes study findings showing a 25 per cent of people who contracted Covid-19 still suffered from symptoms four months later. A fifth of patients said they felt in a poorer physical condition after getting infected.

The Independent on Sunday says that new roads in Wardija as newly-passed water and electricity connections suggest that the area may soon be made open for development. Land prices have risen considerably in the rural zone.

It-Torċa reports that shipping charges and cargo handling fees have risen exponentially in the last months, reflecting on price hikes for consumer products. In some cases, supply costs have risen fivefold since the start of the year.

Illum speaks with the head of the Tourism and Leisure section within the SME Chamber, Philip Fenech, who said that most businesses in the sector will not survive another close-down. He urged authorities to step up enforcement related to Covid-19.

Il-Mument quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech in an address at the end of the party’s General Council. He said that the party is renewing itself to become an alternative government and promised further changes shortly.  

The Sunday Times reports that the father of a German teenager found dead at the foot of Dingli Cliffs five years ago launched a case in court to force Maltese authorities to reopen the investigation. His son’s body was discovered with most organs missing.

The Independent on Sunday speaks with Opposition spokesperson for finance Mario de Marco about the PN’s suggestion to form a national FATF task force. The MP said most of the blame for grey-listing lies with the government, but the solution needs a common front.

Illum says that the Nationalist Party has declined to confirm or deny rumours that new strategy lead Chris Peregin has been awarded a €65,000 annual contract. A spokesperson for the party told the paper that Peregin’s value is higher than the figure.

Malta Today reveals that new inmates at Corradino Correctional Facility are being put into a 14-day quarantine, spending 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. Lawyers raised concerns about restricted access to their clients.

Il-Mument reports the election of Mark Anthony Sammut to president of the PN’s General Council as well as a number of other new members to the party’s Executive Council. Sammut said it was time for the PN to set new aspirations for Malta.

Morning Briefing

The PN is a broad party of diverse thought – Bernard Grech

PN leader Bernard Grech closed off the party’s General Council saying that the Party welcomes people of different thoughts, where everyone was able to speak out. This contrasted with Labour’s approach of silencing people, he said. “I am interested in your value, not your price. Labour thinks it can buy everyone.” The PN leader said he is willing to welcome anyone who wants to advance the cause they believe in, saying the party will make these causes its own. Grech said that he failed to agree with the saying ‘people get the government they deserve’, arguing that “the Maltese deserve better”.

Grech focused on areas such as migration, the environment, traffic and health, saying the party was best poised to find the middle road. “Because we trust you, we can find middle of the road solutions without panic and without resorting to extremes. Because we are a big party that encompasses a wide variety of ideas. We are capable of working towards compromise, which has been abandoned,” Grech added.

The PN leader’s message of renewal was also reflected in voting for the party’s structures, with Mark-Anthony Sammut elected as president of the general council, taking over Censu Galea, and a number of newcomers finding a place on the Executive Committee.

ADPD calls for action on climate change

ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo called for serious action climate change and action and to place people and quality of life before profits. ADPD said that rather than taking a proactive rle, Malta is among those who continuously drag their feet to avoid or reduce the necessary action. The ADPD Chairperson said the increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the average temperature has already been exceeded in the Mediterranean, and there is a risk of more negative impact on the country.

Covid-19 Update

206 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Saturday, identified through 4373 tests. Five persons recovered, taking the active case tally to 1642. Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued by the USA will be recognised by Maltese authorities as from next week, the Health Ministry said. However, the digital verification of such cards will only be available from August. US residents receive a vaccine record card issued by the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDE News