Malta bans flights from South African countries as new variant causes concern / Malta News Briefing – Friday 26 November 2021

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Updated 1745

Times of Malta says that Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg has deflected criticism of newly completed road projects not being immune to flooding, chalking up yesterday’s flooded roads to “extraordinary rain”.

MaltaToday says that an army patrol boat has recovered an unidentified dead body that was spotted near the island of Filfla

Newsbook says that Anti-corruption activists are holding a protest on Monday calling for the resignation of government MP Rosianne Cutajar and Speaker of the House Anġlu Farrugia.

TVM says that with effect from tomorrow, Saturday travel is being stopped to and from countries where a new variant of Covid-19 has been discovered.

Updated 1300 Mid-Day Briefing

Deficit exceeds 1 billion by end October: By the end of October 2021, the Government’s Consolidated Fund reported a staggering deficit of €1,064.9 million. Figures released by the NSO today show that recurrent Revenue amounted to €4,017.5 million, 21.1% higher than the €3,318.3 million reported a year earlier. The largest increase was recorded under Income Tax (€334.2 million), followed by Value Added Tax (€182.4 million), Social Security (€138.8 million). On the other hand, total expenditure stood at €5,082.5 million, 11.4% higher than the previous year.  The main contributor to this increase was a €603.8 million rise reported under Programmes and Initiatives. Furthermore, increases were also witnessed under Personal Emoluments (€91.2 million), Contributions to Government Entities (€30.4 million) and Operational and Maintenance Expenses (€4.5 million).

Borg blames climate change for flooded roads: Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg blamed climate change as criticism mounted after recently completed projects such as the Marsa Junction and Tal-Balal road were flooded with rainwater that flowed through them on Thursday. Borg said that the flooded roads were a result of “extraordinary rain”.“I have to say that yesterday’s rain, as in many other countries, we saw a volume of rain the likes of which we have never seen before. We are committed to keep investing to make sure we lessen the effects of such events as much as we can, but we can never eliminate natural disasters”, Borg argued.

Malta bans flights from South African countries as new variant causes concern: Malta has followed Britain and Italy in banning flights from South Africa and neighbouring countries after a worrying COVID variant is causing global fear. Health Minister Chris Fearne wrote on Facebook that travel to and from regions with known cases of the new Covid19 #variant B.1.1.529 to Malta will be temporarily banned from midnight on Saturday. At the moment this includes South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and, Zimbabwe. The UK Health Security Agency said that the variant – called B.1.1.529 – has a spike protein that was dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are based on.

Covid-19 Update: 56 new cases were reported on Friday, with 58 persons recovering. During the past 24 hours, two other patients have passed away, a man and a woman both aged 77. Active cases stand at 1,003.

Morning Briefing

Unacceptable that Speaker silences citizen – Gonzi

Former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that the Speaker of the House should act as voice of both the government and opposition and thus it was unacceptable that he answered a citizen addressing a complaint to him by trying to silence that person through a legal letter.
Referring to a recent speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of parliament’s establishmen, Gonzi recalled how parliament’s main role is to uphold the rule of law. Gonzi was reacting to a letter by Speaker Anglu Farrugia, following a legal letter the latter sent to the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Farrugia, through his lawyer, had told the activist that he seemed to not understand parliamentary procedure or the laws of Malta for writing directly to him rather then to the Clerk of the House. (Times of Malta)

Demand for mental health services increases exponentially during Covid-19

Richmond Foundation said that the demand for mental health services increased by 500% throughout the pandemic with Chief Executive Officer Stephania Dimech Sant saying the COVID-19 pandemic affected people from all strata, over a prolonged period of time.
“The impact on people’s mental health in Malta has been astounding. Some with anxiety about going back to the office, some with depressive symptoms developed while working from home, others are anxious about their business slowing down. Children and young people have been impacted by the disruption in their school routines,” she said. Addressing a press conference, Dimech Sant appealed for donations to cover the additional expense that left a hole of €200,000 in its finances. (Maltatoday)

Covid-19 Update: A total of 83 new daily cases were reported on Thursday while the number of people treated in hospital dropped to 13, from 16 yesterday. Two people are in intensive care. Two men, aged 63 and 76, died overnight. Active cases have now exceeded 1,000.

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