UPDATED – 130 new coronavirus cases, 134 recoveries and 1 fatality – Malta News Briefing – Sunday 21 February 2021

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Update 1230 – Covid-19 Update

Malta’s Health Department announced that there were 130 new cases and 134 recoveries.

The total amount of active cases as of Sunday at 1230 was reported to be 2,521.

There were 63.308 doses of the vaccine administered, with .20.189 receiving both doses.

To date there were 304 fatalities as in the past hours a 72 year old man succumbed to the disease.

Updated 1220 – News Headlines

Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced that he will convene the Cabinet and the Labor Parliamentary Group tomorrow to discuss the already drawn up plan for rent reform that addresses the injustices in the rental agreements pre-1995. Abela guaranteed that no one will end up homeless, but owners should be given the appropriate compensation. – Newsbook.com.mt

PN Leader Bernard Grech said the party’s vision is that of considering Gozo as a region. He said that the socio-economic report for the island is now in its final stages. He said aid that the PL in government was not able to keep its promise to Gozitans in relation to jobs. He said that the PN is pushing forward the proposal to grant two days of telework to Gozitan civil servants. He also said suggested the Nationalist Party is ready to face a general election the moment Malta exits the COVID-19 pandemic. – Newsbook.com.mt/MaltaToday

A 41-year-old man suffered critical burns late on Saturday while at home in Msida. Preliminary investigations showed that the victim was probably burnt by a candle.

A 25-year-old man was grievously injured in a traffic accident in Żabbar on Saturday evening.

A court hearing a case over an inheritance claim by a man purporting to be the late business magnate Tumas Fenech’s illegitimate son, has been told that Fenech’s remains were not found in his grave.  The man, Victor Buttigieg, had filed a case before the Family Court in 2013, asking that his birth certificate be amended and for DNA testing to be carried out on the deceased’s remains to establish paternity. MaltaToday

55 migrants arrived in Malta on board a dinghy after departing from Libya. The boat was found not far from where the officers met the group. Newsbook.com.mt

Updated 0845 Newspaper Review

Malta Today
 reports that a site of the north-east of Gozo has been identified as a possible offshore wind power plant that could generate enough electricity for the island. Government sources said the project may be eligible for EU funding.

The Independent on Sunday reports that a judge ordered a €1.1 million garnishee on the American University of Malta over a case against it filed by the institution’s former lawyer Louai Al Twal. Banks have received notice of the court order.

Illum says that a senior government official in 2019 gave businessman Yorgen Fenech the go-ahead to pitch a negative story about another government official to an English-language Sunday paper. The message suggested a €10,000 payment to have the story published.

The Sunday Times says that Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar sought Yorgen Fenech’s help to conduct a survey in her constituency in 2019. The businessman assured her of his support, adding in a text that he “had to give her some money”.

It-Torċa speaks with the head of the Crisis Resolution Unity, Dr Mark Xuereb, who warned that the pandemic is leading to an emergency in mental health. Dr Xuereb said that cases of self-harm and suicide attempts have increased.

Il-Mument says that the PL parliamentary group is holding an emergency meeting at Castille on Monday. The paper says that sources believe this is another step towards an early election that could be held towards the beginning of summer.

Kullħadd quotes Central Bank figures showing that bank deposits stood at €14.3 billion by the end of last year. The paper says total savings were five times higher than those registered in the 2008 financial crisis.

The Sunday Times publishes an interview with Carmel Pace, whose wife Miriam died in a building collapse in March year. Pace said that Miriam raised concerns when excavation works on a construction project outside their home started in February.

Malta Today says that an inmate claiming to be the illegitimate son of the late Tumas Fenech claims that the remains of the businessman have been moved from his grave. The man first filed a case before the family court in 2013.

It-Torċa confirms plans to double the number of construction site inspectors by the end of the year. Addressing a press conference, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said that there are currently ten officers inspecting sites.

The Independent on Sunday speaks to PN secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech who said that he intends to serve in the role until the general elections. The paper says that the veteran official could go uncontested when his current term expires in March.

Illum carries an interview with Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis who said that the government is working on a solution to the pre-1995 property rentals laws. He said that property owners deserve fair payment, but no tenant will lose their home.

It-Torċa says that businesses are experiencing long delays on goods imported from the UK, following new regulations and procedures introduced with the Brexit agreement. One trader said that import prices have risen sharply.  

Il-Mument speaks with a family of four who has been living in a caravan since May because the parents could not keep up with the rent. One of the children said that he does not talk to his schoolmates about the situation.

Il-Mument says that proposals for a new energy policy announced by PN Leader Bernard Grech this week were welcomed by sector experts including Engineering Faculty Professor Tonio Sant and Developers Association Director Marthese Portelli.

Kullħadd says that a number of Nationalist MPs held a meeting “behind the back” of party leader Bernard Grech. 

Morning Briefing

Jobs expected to grow in 2022 – CBM

While the number of jobs is expected to continue to grow, the number of hours worked is projected to resume growth in 2021, according to research published in the Central Bank of Malta’s Economic Projections for the 2020-2023 period. The Bank said that jobs are projected to increase by 0.5% in 2021, as are total hours worked.

By 2022, employment growth is expected to be 2.2%, a much lower growth than that envisaged for GDP because despite the impact of the pandemic on output, employment is estimated to have continued to increase somewhat in 2020. Meanwhile, total employment hours are projected to rise by 5.3%, driven by an increase in both headcount and a return to working hours that are more in line with those seen before the pandemic.

The Bank also estimates that employment is set to rise further by 2.7% in 2023 – still significantly below the projection for GDP growth – as firms continue to recuperate recent losses in productivity.

North Korean backed hackers behind BOV heist

Ramoni Igbalode Abbas, a Nigerian social media influencer who had been identified as the man behind the multi-million cyberattack on Bank of Valletta in February 2019, was part of a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank” according to the United States Department of Justice.

The hacking indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles this week alleges that Jon Chang Hyok, 31; Kim Il, 27; and Park Jin Hyok, 36, were members of units of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which engaged in criminal hacking.

Hackers tricked BOV into being the French stock market regulator, manging to break into its IT systems and get away with millions of euros. A few weeks later, the Bank said it had recovered €10 million of the stolen funds.

Covid-19 Update

Health authorities reported 199 new COVID cases over the previous 24 hours and just 106 recoveries, out of 3,100 swab tests.
Two further patients died, taking the tally up to 303. 
The number of active cases stands at 2,526.

CDE News

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