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Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 18 November -Updated

Reading Time: 6 minutes


Updated 1745- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that Malta has joined the United Nations Core Group for LGBTI Issues.

MaltaToday says that The controversial takeover of state hospitals by Vitals Global Healthcare was led entirely by Konrad Mizzi’s ministry, with the government’s public-private partnership arm Projects Malta being completely sidelined.

TVM reports that Deputy Minister Chris Fearne says the Government is acting in a transparent manner and for this reason is announcing on a regular basis all deaths of persons affected with Covid-19.

Newsbook reports that The Medical Association of Malta, MAM, strongly condemns the judicial protest lodged in court opposing the current measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic in Malta

Updated 1236 – Covid-19 Update

Health authorities have reported 173 new cases of coronavirus in Malta over the past 24 hours. These were identified through 3380 swab tests. 135 persons have recovered during the same time, increasing the tally of active cases to 2133.

Updated 1130 – Half a dozen daily Covid-19 deaths expected by December

The daily number of deaths from COVID-19 in Malta is expected to triple next month, according to a global health research centre that predicts the spread of coronavirus. This was revealed by The Times of Malta today.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an affiliate institute of the World Health Organization, deaths in Malta are expected to rise from the current average of two a day to roughly half a dozen daily by early December

Epidemiologist Neville Calleja noted how Malta managed to apply the necessary safeguards to protect vulnerable persons in the first wave. However, this was not the case now. Calleja noted that the highest amount of clusters remain in family environments: “We need to be vigilant. People are going to find it very hard not to meet this Christmas but we need to find other ways,” he said.

Opposition expresses concern on new law on appointment of persons of trust

A proposed law seeking to provide a legal basis for the appointment of persons of trust has been met with concern by Nationalist MPs, who argued that the suggested provisions provided grounds for abuse.

The bill was ultimately approved without a vote in its second reading, but the Opposition is planning to present a number of amendments when it is discussed in committee.

The bill would amend the Standards in Public Life Act, with Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis emphasising that he did not feel that such provisions should be in the Constitution. This Bill is part of Government’s efforts to strengthen Malta’s governance system following a report by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, of which most have since become law.

Priest jailed for three years following sex abuse case

A priest has been jailed for three years for sexually abusing a teenage boy who was entrusted into his care. Donald Bellizzi was found guilty of sexually abusing the then 13-year-old boy, who used to attend a special group for those who were keen on becoming priests.

The offences began in 2010 when the boy began to attend meetings to find out if he had the vocation to become a priest and lasted until he was 16 years old.

Updated 0900 – Newspaper Review

The Times leads with a report by a global research body which estimates that Covid-19 deaths in Malta will increase threefold in the coming month. The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that casualties will rise to six a day.

Malta Today says that 28 percent of households in Malta have an IPTV installed, while 10 percent of those with a standard pay-tv service intend to acquire one. Police sources clarified that it is not illicit to own a device but modifying them to access protected content is illegal.

The Independent says that the Prime Minister did not give a definite answer to a question about the expected reopening of bars and clubs on December 1. Robert Abela said that the general situation will be evaluated closer to the date.

In-Nazzjon follows a meeting between PN Leader Bernard Grech and the Institute of Accountants on Tuesday. Grech said the party is committed to restoring Malta’s reputation and protecting the financial services sector.

L-Orizzont carries an interview with EU Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli who condemned attacks transphobic on electoral candidate Angela Coleiro. The Commissioner said that the LBGTIQ+ community is not an ideology but reflects human diversity.

The Independent reports that Magistrate Rachel Montebello threw out a request for a constitution reference filed by Yorgen Fenech, who argued that his rights were being breached by evidence withheld from the defence team.

L-Orizzont reports a decrease in the number of active Covid-19 cases on Tuesday as a higher number of recoveries were registered than new infections. From more than 2,300 swab tests conducted, 110 returned positive.

The Times reports on criticism by the opposition of a bill seeking to remove persons of trust from the public and civil service. Moved in parliament by the Justice Minister, the legislation would take persons of trust out of the Standards Commissioner’s reach.

Malta Today quotes paediatrician Simon Attard Montalto who wrote that a highly probable second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak was made worse by “over-optimistic soundbites”. Dr Attard Montalto was writing for the Malta Medical Journal.

In-Nazzjon says that two Covid-19 patients died on Tuesday; a man aged 83 and a woman aged 70. Meanwhile, a hundred empty chairs were laid out in Castille square to commemorate the victims of the disease in Malta. 

Covid-19 Update

A man and a woman have died after testing positive for COVID-19, raising the number of victims to 103. The Health Ministry said an 83-year-old man who was diagnosed with the virus on November 6, died late on Monday at Mater Dei Hospital.  The woman, 70, was diagnosed on October 20 and died on Tuesday, also at Mater Dei.

The Health Department reported 110 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, with 161 recovering. The number of active cases has reached 2097.

Health Minister says situation is stable

Measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 were leaving the desired effect, as evidenced by the fact that numbers have remained constant in Malta while they have risen abroad, Health Minister Chris Fearne said yesterday in Parliament.

The Deputy PM said it was not realistic to expect infections to disappear until a vaccination programme was available. However, while other countries were seeing an upshoot in cases, the situation in Malta was stable. This was due to the fact that generally, regulations such as the wearing of masks, the restriction of public gatherings and the requirement of social distancing were being observed, along with the closure of establishments where distancing could not be observed. 

He also recalled that authorities had now also started testing all arrivals from ‘amber list’ countries who did not produce a negative test result. 

Speaker confirms irregular appointment of FIAU Chairperson

Speaker Anglu Farrugia confirmed the irregular nature of the appointment of FIAU Chairman Jesmond Gatt, calling for it to be regularised.

Opposition MPs had complained that this position is one of those listed at law as requiring a parliamentary grilling at the hands of the Public Appointments Committee.

Farrugia upheld this request meaning Gatt will have to face a select committee of MPs before taking up the role.

Soldiers get new collective agreeement

The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and the GWU have signed a Collective Agreement for forces personnel. This is the first-ever Collective Agreement since forces personnel became members of a union. The Collective Agreement will mean an increase of €8 million annually in salaries and incentives for AFM personnel. The signing of the Agreement took place at the AFM Airwing at Safi in the presence of Prime Minister Robert Abela and Minister Byron Camilleri.

TVM reported that Prime Minister Abela said that forces personnel in all sections will now benefit from an €8 million increase in salaries and incentives. He said this is a tribute to the services being given by AFM personnel in ensuring the country’s security. The Prime Minister recalled that those who have resorted to Court actions should understand the sacrifices being made by AFM personnel in immigration issues and particularly these times of the pandemic.

 CDE News

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