Covid deaths exceed 300 mark – Malta News Briefing – Thursday 18 February 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1245:

Covid-19 update
The Health Department reported 163 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours,
with 156 recovering. The number of active cases has reached 2,429. 3,209 swab tests were
carried out in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has reached 301.

Revolut will start to offer bank services in Malta
Global financial platform Revolut said that Maltese customers can now use Revolut Bank.
This will provide customers with deposit accounts that have “more control, value and
security than traditional banks”.
“Launching the bank in Malta will provide a greater level of security and confidence for our
customers, and will enable us to launch a host of new products and services in the near
future.”
Revolut said its bank customers will now have their deposits protected under the deposit
guarantee scheme.
Revolut, which became available in Malta in 2018, is an app-based service which offers
digital banking.

Food courier work conditions investigation ongoing – Minister
It is illegal for third country nationals to work as self-employed, Minister within the Office of
the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela said.
He confirmed that an investigation into food courier work conditions is ongoing.
“The investigation started towards the end of last year and it is ongoing… it is an issue of
compliance in some instances but also of trying to safeguard a work model that developed
over the past year as a result of the pandemic,” Abela said.
Abela added that talks on better regulations for platform work, also known as the gig
economy, have been ongoing in the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development.
The Minister was answering to a question in parliament made by PN MP Jason Azzopardi.

Updated 0850 – Newspaper Review

Business Today speaks with Minister Carmelo Abela who said Cabinet will discuss the proposals about introducing the Right to Disconnect in the coming weeks, but assured employers that no decisions will be taken before consulting social partners.

The Malta Business Weekly publishes an interview with the president of the Organic Farming Association, Mario Salerno, who called for state incentives enjoyed by conventional farmers to encourage more organic agriculture.

The Times leads with the withdrawal by the lawyers of Vince Muscat of an appeal against a court decision turning down offers for a pre-trial deal. One of the three men charged with killing Daphne Caruana Galizia, Muscat is understood to be cooperating with the police.

The Independent says that Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti and two judges postponed a sitting in the case against the alleged hitmen in the Caruana Galizia murder to April. The decision came after one of the charged men dropped challenges against the prosecution.

L-Orizzont quotes a Central Bank report which said that the jobs market showed “extraordinary resilience” in 2020 despite a decrease in the rate of employment. The report expects jobs to grow by 2.7 percent in the next three years.

In-Nazzjon says that Energy Minister Miriam Dalli refused to commit to raising the feed-in rate for families generating electricity from solar panels. The minister said that the government is reviewing the situation.

The Independent reports on revised plans for a hotel in Delimara Bay, Marsaxlokk after original designs submitted in 2018 were withdrawn. The new hotel would be lower in height but have a larger footprint, taking up more ODZ land.

Business Today reports that HSBC will introduce a €5 monthly charge for consumers following discussions with regulators. The bank confirmed the new policy but said that the fee will only apply to about a quarter of its personal banking clients.

The Times reports that the government’s privatisation unit launched a call for proposals for the operation of a casino at the Dragonara Palace in St Julian’s. It is not clear whether the current operator will bid for a renewal of the licence.

L-Orizzont reports that a man was charged with setting the car of a prison warden on fire. At the moment of arrest, some weeks later, the 42-year-old broke police orders and dragged an officer some 50 feet along the road.

In-Nazzjon says that the Labour Party parliamentary group is divided over media reports surrounding Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar and that the Prime Minister has rejected calls to suspend her.  

Morning Briefing

Clear signs vaccine is working – Dr Charles Mallia Azzopardi

The Head of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Mater Dei, Dr Charles Mallia Azzopardi, revealed that the number of elderly persons requiring recovery at Mater Dei has decreased since the commencement of the vaccination process against Covid-19.

Speaking on the national broadcaster, Mallia Azzopardi said that although the presence of the variant is a matter of concern, the vaccination is also proving to be a shield against all types of Covid infections.

Official data shows that approximately 10% of the population have now received a first dose while 3% have received a second dose, including health workers and those aged over 80. A number of other key workers will be vaccinated throughout the next weeks.

OPM broke ethics code when locking up journalists

The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life found the Office of the Prime Minister under former prime minister Joseph Muscat guilty of an ethics breach after holding journalists against their will at Castille during a 2019 news conference.

The Institute of Maltese Journalists had asked for an investigation after members of the press were stopped from leaving the office of the prime minister after a news conference with Muscat following a marathon cabinet meeting.

The emergency press conference was called at 3am, after a lengthy Cabinet meeting, after which Muscat announced that Yorgen Fenech would not be receiving a presidential pardon, despite the latter’s claims that he could reveal names higher up the chain who had ordered Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Vince Muscat drops appeals in Caruana Galizia murder case

Vince Muscat, one of three men charged with murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia, withdrew his appeal from a criminal court ruling that rejected 118 exceptions raised by the accused.

The appeal was expected to be heard yesterday, but Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, advised the court that he was withdrawing his appeal.

This surprise move suggests Muscat, contrary to the Degiorgio brothers, is not willing to challenge the prosecution of the case against him.

A number of interpretations have been reported in view of this mood, including that potentially Muscat could be cooperating with the state in view of a possible reduced sentence.

Covid-19 Update

Health authorities reported 199 new cases of coronavirus in Malta yesterday , while 89 recovered. These numbers were a result of 3,207 swab tests carried out yesterday and mean that the number of active cases now stands at 2,425. The Ministry’s daily report also notes that 55,709 doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccination has been given, with 17,843 being second doses. Meanwhile, a 74 year-old male became the virus 298th victim in Malta.

CDE News

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