Updated: 1232 – Covid-19 Update
Health authorities reported a staggering 510 new cases of coronavirus, by the highest-ever reported since the onset of the pandemic on the island. With 316 persons recovering, active cases increase to 3,182. Two additional deaths have taken up the tally to 337.
Updated 1227 – MUT registers dispute
The Malta Union of Teachers has registered an industrial dispute with Government raising concerns related to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in general and in schools. President Mario Bonnici said that a higher number of teachers were now under quarantine, making effective supervision of children harder.
Bonnici added: We are not ready to take risks on anyone and Goverment should be doing the same”.
The MUT also questioned why a particular school had reverted to online learning while others continued normally. It also pointed out that while Government had directed its members to telework, this reasoning was not applicable for schools and classes.
Malta Today leads with the start of the compilation of evidence against brothers Robert and Adrian Agius and their collaborator Jamie Vella. The three are linked to the murders of Carmel Chircop in 2015 and Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 .
The Times says that the suspected hitmen in the Caruana Galizia assassination had knowledge of their impending arrest for three weeks, but they thought they would be immediately released.
In-Nazzjon says that Active Ageing Minister Michael Farrugia has admitted to taking the Covid-19 vaccine even though he does not fall within any eligible cohort. The minister said he did it out of precaution since he is in close contact with elderly people.
The Independent quotes Police Superintendent Keith Arnaud who said that the alleged suppliers of the bomb which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia had acquired the same car model driven by the journalist to practice picking its locks.
L-Orizzont reports on revelations by Vince Muscat to police investigators that the murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop in 2015 was executed by Jamie Vella and commissioned by brothers Robert and Adrian Agius.
The Times reports that hundreds of hospital appointments for cancer patients have been postponed due to delays in supply of radioactive substances procured from Rome. Sources said that an unused machine producing the substance lies idle at the Life Sciences Park.
L-Orizzont quotes Finance Minister Clyde Caruana who said that the spend on the wage supplement reached €63 million since the start of the year, equivalent to three percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
The Independent reports that the Covid-19 supplement for businesses will be extended until the end of the year for companies that are worst hit by the effects of the pandemic. Minister for Enterprise Miriam Dalli said that the scheme will apply to restaurants.
In-Nazzjon reports on a meeting between PN Leader Bernard Grech and British High Commissioner Cathy Ward. The two said that Brexit will not disrupt the strong relations between Malta and the UK.
L-Orizzont says that a man has been jailed for four years after having been found guilty of breaking his daughter’s legs in a fit of temper, four years ago. His daughter was only seven months old at the time.
Economy on the up, jobs down – Eurostat
Eurostat figures have shown that Malta registered the second largest economic growth among all European Union countries during the last three months of 2020. Data published yesterday has shown that Malta’s Gross Domestic Product increased by 3.8 per cent when compared with the same three months of 2019, while on average Euro zone countries registered a decrease of 0.7% in the GDP.
Conversely, Eurostat figures also show that during the same period, Malta together with four other countries had the largest reduction in jobs with 0.5%, compared with the same three months of 2019.
Also yesterday, Government said that it will extend the Covid wage supplement in full until June, and then gradually withdraw it by the end of the year.
Half of vulnerable people vaccinated
More than half of the 23,000 people classified as vulnerable have been given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine according to Health Minister Chris Fearne. Speaking in Parliament, Fearne confirmed that of those who are deemed vulnerable, 55% have been vaccinated once.
Malta’s health authorities started vaccinating the vulnerable earlier than originally planned after the vaccination programme was brought forward by two weeks because of the arrival of the AstraZeneca jab.
Alleged Daphne killers had three-weeks heads up of arrest
Three men accused of murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were warned “at least three weeks” ahead of time that one of them was to be arrested in connection with the assassination. This emerged during court testimony related to a different case, the killing of lawyer Carmel Chircop.
It was Vince Muscat, who has already admitted to killing Caruana Galizia as part of a plea deal, told the police that himself, George and Alfred Degiorgio knew beforehand of the arrests. All three were charged with Caruana Galizia’s murder a few days later. While Muscat has admitted to the crime and is cooperating with investigators, the Degiorgio brothers are pleading not guilty to charges.
The details were given by superintendent Keith Arnaud in the compilation of evidence against Ta’ Maksar brothers Robert and Adrian Agius, Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio.
The Health Department reported 248 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours. 390 people recovered from the virus. The number of active cases has reached 3,035. 4,470 swab tests were carried out in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has reached 335.