Cabinet approves new energy interconnector to Sicily – Ombudsman/ Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 8 June 2021

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Malta is set to get a second electricity interconnector linking the island to Sicily after Cabinet gave the project the thumbs up, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said on Tuesday. The 200-megawatt cable is expected to cost €170 million and will run parallel to the existing interconnector that links Malta with Ragusa.  At a press conference at the Enemalta station in Magħtab on Tuesday, Dalli said that a study undertaken by an international consultancy firm had concluded that the best way to meet the projected growth in electricity demand was through a second interconnector. – TimesofMalta

A 40-year-old Italian national tragically died on Tuesday after falling from a height of four storeys. The Italian man wascarrying out work on a roof of a factory at the Ħal Far Industrial Estate. The incident happened at around 11.30am. The man was confirmed dead by a medical team who went on site. Newsbook

Covid-19 Update: One new case was reported on Monday, from 1,432 swab tests taken yesterday. Three patients recovered, lowering the active case count to 70.

Army promotions illegal – Ombudsman: The fast-tracked promotion of four Armed Forces of Malta officers right after Labour swept to power in 2013 was “outright illegal”, having been ordered directly by the home affairs minister at the time and carried out behind the back of the AFM commander, the ombudsman said. “The promoted officers were promoted on the instructions of the minister,” the ombudsman said in his report, adding that this course of action had been met with no opposition. The permanent secretary had obeyed his minister’s orders “unconditionally”.

The promotions concerned Jeffrey Curmi, who eventually became commander and Pierre Vassallo, Mark Said and Mark Mallia, while the complaint was presented by Karl Sammut, Albert Brincat, Ian Ruggier and Mario Borg. All four have now left the Army.

Newspaper Review

The Times quotes a report by the Ombudsman which concludes that the quick promotions of four Armed Forces officers soon after the 2013 elections were done behind the back of the AFM Brigadier and in an illegal manner.

The Independent speaks with virologist Chris Barbara who said that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against the Covid-19 variants including the Delta strain which was recently discovered in Malta.

L-Orizzont says that there were six reported cases of rape in the first months this year, a rise when compared to the same period last year. In 2020, the police received a total of 17 reports of rape.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that the party is renewing itself and growing into an alternative government. He was speaking during a political fundraising marathon that collected €240,500 on Monday.

The Independent says that no new Covid-19 cases were registered on Monday, the first time since July last year. Meanwhile, two more patients recovered bringing the number of active cases down to 72.  

The Times reports that intensive care is free from Covid-19 patients while the number of people being treated for the virus at Mater Dei hospital has decreased to three. Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci welcomed the news but appealed for vigilance.

L-Orizzont says that the Italian government has opened dialogue with rescue organisations operating in the Mediterranean. In a meeting with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, NGOs appealed for concrete action to save migrants at sea.  

Morning Briefing

20% of tourists coming to Malta without Covid documentation: The Medical Association of Malta said that more than 20% of tourists travelling to Malta had to be tested after their arrival since they would have not produced the required documentation. In April, that figure stood at around 30 per cent.

Martin Balzan, MAM President expressed concern that this increases the risk of importing variants of concern and bringing to nothing efforts to promote the island as a safe destination. “Would a traveler feel safe sitting on a plane not knowing whether there is an infected person onboard? Balzan questioned. “If it is an administrative issue, then this needs to be addressed and efforts to ensure all those involved know what is happening should be stepped up,” he said.

Scheme to support property sales abroad: People working in the property sector who participate in international fairs will have half their costs refunded by government in a newly launched scheme. The Property Malta Foundation announced on Monday that businesses who advertise the country’s property market internationally, can claim 50% of costs up to €5,000.

Cruise ship turned away after passenger tests positive: A cruise ship on its way to Malta had to make last minutes changes after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19. On Monday, the MSC Seaside, which was meant to stop here in transit, was not permitted to enter the Valletta Cruise Port. It had left Syracuse, Sicily, on June 1 for a seven-day tour around the Mediterranean.

Covid-19 Update: Health authorities have reported that no new cases were identified while two patients recovered. Active cases stand at 72.

CDE News