Ivan Barbara’s wife and adopted child arrive in Malta – Malta News Briefing – Sunday 2 May 2021

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Update 1900 – The wife and adopted daughter of a Maltese man who died from COVID-19 in India arrived safely in Malta on Sunday evening. The Times of Malta reports that they also brought with them Ivan Barbara’s ashes.

Update 1320 PN leader Bernard Grech became the latest politician to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Grech posted on Facebook showing how he was vaccinated at the Mosta health centre on Sunday. “Today it was my turn to get the Covid-19 vaccine. I encourage those who can take it to get vaccinated when it is their turn. Like that, together we can continue fighting this pandemic”, he said.

Update 1230 The Maltese Health authorities announced that there were 12 new Covid-19 cases and 20 recoveries in the past 24 hours. The amount of active cases now is 261.

Update 1210 A “coordinated” effort to carry out cleansing and upkeep works across Malta is set to take place over the coming weeks, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced on Sunday.  Speaking during an interview on ONE radio, Abela said numerous government entities would be coming together to clean up the country. Times of Malta Despite Malta having the lowest number of active cases in eight months, Abela has urged people to remain cautious. MaltaToday Abela said that he is looking forward to 1 June, when the tourism sector will be able to become active again without endangering anyone when it comes to Covid-19.  He reassured everyone that if the mitigation measures set out by the authorities continue to be respected than he is optimistic that the country will have a good summer season. Malta Independent

Opposition leader Bernard Grech took a cautious approach when asked on the issue of migration on Sunday. “While the country must observe international regulation, the safety and security of our localities must not be threatened,” he said. Reacting to proposed legal amendments governing public collections and charity shops, Grech said that while it’s good to have regulation protecting against illicit activities like money laundering, such laws should not serve as too much of a burden for the organisations. “Yes, there were people who abused of NGOs, but any regulation should help these organisations rather than make it more difficult for them,” Grech said. MaltaToday

Update 1200 – A small crowd of people protesting against the wearing of face-masks gathered in Sliema on Sunday. Some protestors held placards heralding phrases such as “No Mask. No Forced Vax” and “Stand For Freedom”. Malta Independent

Gozitan developer and the president of Malta’s football league winners Hamrun Spartans, Joseph Portelli was held for questioning over alleged connections with former superintendent Raymond Aquilina. Police sources quoted by Shift News said that Portelli was interrogated under caution by the financial crimes department over his possible connections with Aquilina, who for many years was the key police officer responsible for money laundering investigations at the Economic Crimes Unit. The deals under scrutiny involve the transfer of property to Aquilina’s relatives that later ended up in the hands of the former police superintendent. During several court hearings, Aquilina’s name came up during conversations secretly recorded by State witness Melvin Theuma. Aquilina and former deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta were the police officials most frequently mentioned in alleged leaks to those suspected of being involved in the crime. Shift News

Update 1150 – A 72-year-old man sustained grievous injuries after trying to stop two people from vandalizing a car in St. Julian’s. The incident happened at around 6:45 on Sunday morning, when police were informed of an argument in Triq il-Kbira in St. Julian’s. The 72-year-old tried to stop two people from damaging a Civil Protection Department car and ended up being attacked by them. The two people, an Irishman and a Spanish woman – both 23 years old, escaped from the site right after but were apprehended by police later in Triq Karmnu in St. Julian’s.

Newspaper Review

The Sunday Times says people over the age of 30 can register for the Covid-19 vaccine from Tuesday. Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that four in ten of the 40-50 age bracket have been given at least one dose.

Malta Today asks President George Vella whether he would sign a Bill allowing genetic testing of embryos produced in vitro. Refusing to be drawn into the debate, the president said he would consider the issue if it arises.

The Sunday Times says that police surveillance captured former Superintendent Ray Aquilina visiting Yorgen Fenech’s business associate Johann Cremona several times in 2019. The officer is believed to have leaked information about the Caruana Galizia investigation.

The Independent on Sunday says that the consortium awarded with the St Vincent de Paul Residence contract inflated original prices to compensate for the ‘no-cost’ investment it was requested to make. The construction of four blocks cost €14 million.

Illum says that the Prime Minister is considering a proposal to issue vouchers for businesses that have already reopened. The Chamber of SMEs warned that clothing and footwear shops are still operating at a loss.

It-Torċa quotes Interior Minister Byron Camilleri who said that, between 2019 and 2020, there was only one complaint about the army to the Ombudsman, a decrease from the 22 complaints lodged over the previous six years.

Il-Mument quotes a message by PN Leader Bernard Grech to mark the Day of Workers. Grech said that the party’s vision is to make Malta the top country to live and work in by fostering better industrial relations.

Kullħadd says that the number of people in severe poverty decreased by 25,000 since 2013. Figures by the National Statistics Office show that the rate of material deprivation is half the EU average.

Malta Today says that vaccinated residents will be allowed to travel to countries on the red list without the express permission from health authorities. Vaccination passports will be valid for a period up to six months.

The Sunday Times says people over the age of 30 can register for the Covid-19 vaccine from Tuesday. Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that four in ten of the 40-50 age bracket have been given at least one dose.

Il-Mument reports that Ivan Barbara, who died of Covid-19 in India on Friday, was cremated in the country. His widow Roseanne and their newly adopted child are expected to arrive back in Malta today.

It-Torċa speaks with Maltese High Commissioner to India, Reuben Gauci, about the crisis Covid-19 situation in the country. The High Commissioner, however, reassures that the Maltese community in the country is safe.  

Illum says visitors to Malta will be requested to produce a negative Covid-19 test result before leaving the origin country, not on arrival. The measure, which is already applied by other countries, will come into effect on June 1.

Il-Mument publishes an interview with PN spokesperson for tourism, Robert Arrigo, who said that the party’s strategic plan for tourism is built on broad discussions with operators in the sector.

It-Torċa reports on parallel campaigns by the Foundation for Social Wellbeing Services on Benna milk cartons. One campaign raises awareness about domestic violence while another encourages child fostering.

Kullħadd speaks with two former MEPs from Bulgaria who disagreed with a resolution backed by Maltese MEP Robert Metsola that identified mafia links with protests against the incumbent Prime Minister in Sofia. The politicians said the resolution was built on lies. 

Morning Briefing

We will continue protecting workers and jobs – Robert Abela

Speaking on Labour Day, Prime Minister Robert Abela claimed that our country has stood firm for the pandemic thanks to the commitment and dedicaton of local workers. He said that Government has done everything to support and incentivize the workers: “The last few days have been no exception. We have again announced € 20 million in business aid, in a mix of assistance and incentives.”

Abela said that this does not mean that no one in Malta is going through a difficult period due to the pandemic but insisted that “we have maintained the situation of many Maltese families in a good position.”

“When looking at other countries, we have done much better,” he said.

PM Abela expressed his gratitude and thanked all Maltese and Gozitan workers who have survived these past 15 months despite being in a pandemic.

Workers’ quality of life must improve – Bernard Grech

PN leader Bernard Grech emphasised the importance of safeguarding jobs and the workers’ quality of life, insisting that the protection of the worker will remain a mainstay of PN policy. Opposition Leader Bernard Grech, speaking on occasion of Labour Day, reiterated that the PN will continue to work on a policy where the worker will be able to enjoy a policy of dignity and guaranteed work.

The PN will work to promote the zeal and talent of the Maltese worker while highlighting the efforts carried out by employees in different sector throughout the difficult months of the pandemic. “It is fundamental that workers are trained in the skills that the country needs and are given the opportunity to progress in their careers through specialised training in order to become an essential part of the economy as well as society at large”, he added.

Barbara cremated in Delhi

Ivan Barbara, the man who tragically died from COVID-19 in India has been cremated in Delhi. He was due to be evacuated to Malta, but unfortunately passed away the day before. His wife and their newly adopted baby girl, are expected in Malta this morning. It has been reported that Barbara, 47, suffered extreme medical complications because of Covid-19.

Health authorities reported 74 recoveries on Saturday, with new cases remaining low, at 15. This has brought down the number of active cases substantially, to 270. However, during the previous 24 hours, two men, aged 70 and 91 passed away while Covid positive.

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