Opposition Leader Adrian Delia insisted that Government was reacting too late to developments related to the economic and health developments. Delia said that a number of companies had already laid off workers, and the fact that Robert Abela announced a number of retroactive measures was a recognition that the first two set of measures were insufficient.
Delia remarked that while government would be covering 50% of the salary of around 60,000 employees, another 110,00 employees in the private sector will have no means of support. The PN leader also criticised Government for failing to reduce electricity bills despite oil prices being at historical lows.
Health-wise, Delia challenged Government to explain why despite knowing of the impending crisis for weeks, a call for proposals for a pre-fabricated hospital was only issued yesterday.
19 new cases of COVID-19 positive persons were identified during the past 24 hours out of 488 swabs.
Eight cases relate to travel, four cases were identified through contact tracing related to existent cases. The other seven cases, including an 81 year old have had no apparent links with previously known cases and are therefore cases of local transmission.
Malta now has 129 coronavirus-positive patients. A total of 3819 swabs were tested. 2605 of swabs were carried out on symptomatic persons, with the remainder carried out at Mater Dei.
Prof Gauci re-iterated her appeal for persons above 60 to avoid going out unless strictly necessary. She appealed to the elderly to make use of services which are available to have their foodstuff and medicines delivered.
Government has yesterday evening upped its offering in terms of economic support measures to sustain industry and business, and consequently employment, during this time of crisis. Describing it as a “historical social pact”, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that these new measures had the full support of MCESD members.
The measures are intended to inject trust in businesses and employment and give a strong message of trust in challenging times. “After darkness, there will be light”, quipped the Prime Minister. Among the key changes from the previous initiatives, Abela said that Government was planning to cover the full salary of those workers in affected industries, up to 800 euro. 60,000 employees stand to benefit from this initiative. A full report of yesterday evening’s Press Conference by PM Abela and the initiatives announced is available in our story here.
In her daily update, Prof Charmaine Gauci announced that Malta only registered three new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours. These were identified from 292 swabs, taking the tally to 110.
New powers for Prof Gauci
Yesterday Parliament approved amendments to legislation to strengthen the authority of Public Health Superintendent Prof Charmaine Gauci in the implementation of measures which protect public health. In the same Parliamentary session, Deputy PM Chris Fearne gave details on the public call for a pre-fabricated hospital which provides for 90 beds, 60 of which for intensive calls, all equipped with respirators.
In addition to St Thomas Hospital, Fearne explained that another private hospital is in discussions with Government to offer similar services.