3,000 Covid-19 active cases – Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 3 March 2021

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Latest Update- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that Health Minister Chris Fearne on Wednesday doubled down on the claim he had been asked for political favours in the roll-put of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying “more than one” Opposition MP had approached him to be bumped up the vaccine waiting list.  

MaltaToday reports that The government is set to begin work on an information campaign directed at teenagers to increase awareness of drug and substance abuse. 

Newsbook reports that Minister Chris Fearne said that plans are being drafted so that services provided by the GU clinic can be provided by the Primary Healthcare sector

TVM reports a man has pleaded guilty to grievously injuring another

Updated 1240

Covid-19 update
The Health Department reported 233 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours,
with 162 recovering. The number of active cases has reached 3,000. 3,654 swab tests were
carried out in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has reached 321.

Public health trade unions call for stricter Covid-19 measures.

The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine and the For.U.M group of trade unions have called for stricter Covid-19 measures.

They have joined a growing chorus of people calling for more restrictive measures to be put in place as Covid-19 cases continue to surge. Malta reached a record 336 new Coronavirus cases yesterday.
The Associations said that they are not calling for a full lockdown. However, there is a clear
need to introduce stricter measures, to stop the current “very high level of spread”, it said.
“Unless we make sacrifices now, we will end up suffering even more,” the association said.
For.U.M trade unions pointed out that the country hit record numbers when 10% of the
population has been vaccinated. The rise in cases could not be blamed on the Christmas or
Carnival periods, it added.
It recommended temporarily closing of establishments where people congregate indoors,
remote working where possible, strict enforcement of mask-wearing and social distance
measures and hefty fines for those ignoring the directives. These directives should remain in
place until infections stabilise at the levels Malta had in the summer, the group said.

Newspaper Review

Malta Today reports that nurses have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister following the surge of Covid-19 cases. In a statement, the union of nurses warned that Mater Dei hospital is reaching breaking point, with only a few more beds available at ITU.

The Independent says that doctors are raising concerns about the large number of Covid-19 infections despite a high rate of vaccination. In a statement the doctors’ union warned that cases will continue to rise unless new measures are imposed.

The Times says that a record number of 336 new Covid-19 cases were registered on Tuesday. The figure returns a high positivity rate of 9.4 percent of swab tests conducted in the previous 24 hours.  

In-Nazzjon reports the death of three Covid-19 patients between Monday and Tuesday. The victims, a 41-year-old man and two women aged 61 and 78, have raised the coronavirus death toll to 319.  

L-Orizzont says the government is introducing measures to compensate workers that are approaching pension age but whose contributions were affected by the pandemic. The changes to the law will support some 2,500 people.

The Independent quotes a message by Carmel Pace, a year after his wife Miriam was killed when their family home collapsed. The widower expressed his grief on Facebook and said that the tragedy has left him feeling like a soulless body.

The Times quotes opposition MP Jason Azzopardi who claimed in parliament that a senior official at the Inland Revenue was forced to resign on fabricated charges in 2013. Azzopardi accused Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar of abuse of power.

Malta Today says that the country has entered a third wave of the pandemic and calls on authorities to consider a soft lockdown, including a temporary closure of the airport. It says that cost to human life should be the top priority.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that the contact-tracing system has collapsed as the country registered an average of 10 new Covid-19 cases every hour during the past week.

L-Orizzont says that the EU is warning member states about criminal organisations posing as intermediaries for pharmaceutical companies and selling fake vaccines. EU governments are procuring vaccines directly from licensed manufacturers

Morning Briefing

No further restrictions expected, but fines may increase

PM Robert Abela insisted that no further restrictions are in the offing following a record number of Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, but warned that fines for those caught breaching COVID-19 rules could soon be increased as part of the government’s efforts to control the growing spread of the virus.

Speaking in parliament, Abela said he believed fines for those breaching the measures in place should increase. No other information was provided except for the fact that discussions with authorities were ongoing. From his end, Health Minister Chris Fearne dismissed calls for a short lockdown to slow down the spread, arguing that the authorities were putting a lot of effort on the vaccination programme.

Introduce measures now, insist doctors

Martin Balzan, President of the MEdical Association of Malta, said that if the daily cases continue to rise as they are right now, the daily cases will go into “the high hundreds”. He argued the public health measures which are in place right now are not enough, and more restrictive measures need to be introduced.

“Our position regarding the record-breaking cases today is that it is very clear that now we are dealing with the UK variant, which is much more contagious. What we got away with before, we cannot now,” he added.

Azzopardi claims Principle Permanent Secretary involved in frame up of tax official

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi has alleged in Parliament that a frame-up of a former tax official had been carried out by the Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar and ex-Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit, with the involvement of current PM Robert Abela. The former tax official was told to resign quietly, and after refusing to do so, was threatened with made-up criminal charges. His family had at the time turned to Robert Abela to act as his lawyer in this situation.

The PN MP concluded by saying that Cutajar’s place was not at Castille, but at the Corradino Correctional Facility.

Covid-19 Update
336 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Tuesday. Only 80 persons recovered, meaning that the number of active cases shot up to 2,931. A total of 3,572 swab tests took place on Monday. The number of total cases has reached 22,993. During the last 24 hours, three patients died while Covid-19 positive, taking the death toll up to 319. One of the victims was a 41-year old male.
Till yesterday, 81,883 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered, of which 29,021 were second doses.

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