Updated 1230 – Malta registers 400th Covid-death
Malta registered its 400th Covid-related death on Wednesday, a 78-year-old woman.
For the first time in a week, new cases (65) surpassed recoveries (47), increasing the number of active cases to 545.
2,210 swab tests were taken yesterday.
Till yesterday, 223,020 doses of the anti-Covid 19 vaccination were administered, of which 61,111 were second doses.
PM Robert Abela said that Malta has been facing the pandemic for more than a year. Different times have required different decisions to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of the Maltese population. This included increasing and at times decreasing restrctions, while avoiding a complete lockdown. This effort has yielded the desired results with a decreasing caseload and less pressure on our hospitals. This is being supported by the vaccination process. Therefore, a number of restrictions can be gradually reduced.
Priority will be given to education, health and the elderly.
Primary Schools, childcare centres will re-open on Monday. Middle school students will return to school on Wednesday while Secondary students will return on Friday. Post-sec students will remain online.
Non-essential services and retail outlets will re-open on the 26.
Four persons will be able to meet in public on the 26th April.
All other measures will remain in place, including the closure of bars and restaurants.
Updated 0900 – Newspaper Review
The Times says that the government is set to announce the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions starting with the reopening of schools on Monday. Sources said that Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci backs the decision.
Malta Today says that a plan for the lifting of current Covid-19 measures is in its final stages. Speaking on One Radio on Tuesday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the government is not seeking an “aggressive reopening”.
The Independent says that health authorities will introduce new safety protocols today as the government is expected to relax some of the Covid-19 restrictions. In a statement, the doctor’s association appealed for a gradual reopening.
L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said in a radio interview that safety measures will soon start to be scaled back. Abela said that the easing of restrictions will err on the side of caution.
In-Nazzjon reports a number of complaints by people with appointments for the vaccine on Tuesday morning at the Bormla centre who were sent back and told to return in the afternoon.
Malta Today quotes a statement by the Armed Forces denying claims by NGOs that 110 migrants stranded at sea in Malta’s Search and rescue area were reported missing. The statement said that the boat reached Italian territory.
The Independent leads with the release on bail of Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini against a deposit of €60,000 and a personal guarantee of €90,000. Their associates Manuel Castagna and Katrin Bond Carter were also granted bail.
In-Nazzjon says that Brian Tonna and Carl Cini are expected to be indicted on charges of money laundering in the coming week. The Nexia BT partners were granted bail on Tuesday against a number of conditions.
The Times carries an interview with Emanuel Camilleri who was falsely accused of having raped his daughter in 2004 and spent almost 400 days in prison. Camilleri said he contemplated suicide as soon as he was taken to prison.
L-Orizzont says that the teachers’ union issued a statement warning that it does not agree with the full reopening of schools next week. The union of professional educators, on the other hand, said that students should return to physical classes from Monday.
Updated 0715: PM expected to give update on restrictions, announce schools re-opening later today
The Times of Malta reveals this morning that schools are set to reopen on Monday as the government begins easing restrictions imposed last month. It quotes sources which indicated that the PM is expected to address a press conference later today on the matter.
More bails granted in financial crime cases
Nexia BT managing partners Brian Tonna, Karl Cini and Manuel Castagna, together with office manager Katrin Bondin Carter, who are all facng charges of money laundering and forgery, have been granted bail by Court yesterday. They are all pleading not guilty. Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech defended her decision to grant bail by noting that investigations were progressing at a fast pace, commending both the prosecution and defence for the process.
The four are being charged with financial crime following inquiries inquiries into former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.
Stringent bail conditions were imposed, particularly for Tonna and Cini.
AFM says immigrants safe in Italy
The Armed Forces have confirmed that two boats carrying immigrants landed safely at Lampedusa.In its statement the AFM said it performs rescue operations in conformity with international conventions and it does not necessarily mean that if there is a vessel at sea with immigrants on board they are in danger.
Each case is closely monitored and contrary to allegations it was the immigrant themselves who insisted they continue their voyage to their intended destination. The Armed Forces also expressed regret and sadness that this was not the first occasion when NGOs aimed baseless accusations against them.
PM Abela hints at school’s reopening
Educaton will be government’s priority, PM Abela revealed, indicating that schools will be among the first institutions to re-open as restrictions are gradually lifted.
Prime Minister Robert Abela revealed that in the ‘coming hours’ Government will be revealing its plan towards the gradual easing of pandemic restrictions.
He was speaking on Labour’s party radio, adding that “we are not looking at an aggressive plan, rather it will be a cautious one, where we prioritise a number of areas, including education.
“We’re preparing for what is possibly the most crucial summer for tourism ever, so we need to continue to err on the side of caution in the coming weeks,” Abela concluded.
For the first time in around a month, Malta has recorded no new Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday. 64 new cases were recorded as 67 people recovered. These new cases were found from 2,164 swab tests taken over the previous 24 hours.
There are now 528 active cases.