Malta-24 – News Briefing – Monday 22nd June 2020

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Updated 1312

Timesofmalta.com reports that Health Minister Chris Fearne has defended a European initiative to order in bulk the coronavirus vaccines after the agreement came under fire from his Belgian counterpart. The paper’s online portal reports that Fearne said that  while the two initiatives might have originated independently, they were not necessarily to each other’s detriment.

“The principal aim is to ensure that each member state is given access to the COVID-19 vaccine, once it is available on the market. With such a mechanism, member states are working together to access the vaccine rather than competing against each other, which is an ideal scenario for smaller states like Malta,” he said.

“This alliance is not a sign that the European Commission acted inefficiently, rather things happened at a fast rate through collaboration between member states. One initiative does not exclude the other. Both initiatives can be done in tandem as long as citizens have access to the vaccine.”

Updated 1244 – No new cases of coronavirus

There were no new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the Health Department said. One person has been declared as recovered, meaning that active cases now stand at 39.

464 swabs were taken on Sunday.

The Department said that of 617 recoveries, 363 were males while 254 were female.

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Updated 1010 – Newspaper review

The Independent publishes an interview with PN secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech who said that the party’s finances are in a stable situation. Zammit Dimech said he is encouraged by the number of individual donations.

L-Orizzont quotes a Facebook post by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in which he denied claims that he asked Yorgen Fenech about the contents of the secret recordings made by the middleman in the Caruana Galizia case.

The Times reports on a rise in skiving by participants in a Jobs Plus scheme in Gozo managed by a General Workers Union foundation, assigning workers to local councils. Complaints by councillors about have increased since the change in minister.

In-Nazzjon follows an interview with PN Leader Adrian Delia in which he appealed for the collaboration of everyone to help rebuild the country’s reputation. Delia called on ‘genuine’ people in the Labour Party to stand up for the country’s interests.

The Independent says that students on Erasmus programmes have been given a 12-month extension to complete their studies. A spokesperson for the EU Programmes Agency said that participants have had to cancel, suspend, or postpone their programmes.

The Times speaks to Polidano Group about structural deterioration to the pedestrian bridge at the Gozo ferry terminal inaugurated in 2012. Legal adviser Jean Paul Sammut said that the company is meeting authorities over the matter this month.

L-Orizzont reports that the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the killing of George Floyd in the USA. MEPs urged the European Commission to take a firm stand against racism.

The morning appears slightly cloudy and breezy but it is expected to be a hot day in Malta’s Law Courts with former Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, expected to testify later today, in the compilation of evidence against businessman Yorgen Fenech, the man suspected of masterminded the murder of  journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In a Facebook post, Schembri wrote that “The time has finally come, tomorrow I will speak out and reveal the truth”.

Meanwhile, the Montenegro windfarm scandal continues to dominate the scene throughout the weekend with accusations and denials across the political divide. The Police said in a brief statement that they had already started investigating the issue in question in collaboration with Europol and with the assistance of other competent authorities. They insisted that these investigations had started “prior to the media reports of the past hours.”

Yesterday, the traditional Sunday interview with the Prime Minister was not held.

MEA warns windfarm scandal is another blow to Malta’s reputation

The Malta Employers’ Association warned that the news about the Montenegro Wind farm deal is yet another blow to Malta’s international reputation which could have long term repercussions on the economy.

As more scandals connected to Malta are hitting the international media, the MEA feared that the situation could hit a point of no return and it will take decades to restore Malta’s standing as a reliable investment destination.

Covid-19 update

The recent political tribulations have pushed developments on the Covid-19 to the side, particularly as new cases have drastically gone down over the past five days. Yesterday, the Health department said there was one new coronavirus case in the previous 24 hours. As no persons recovered, Malta’s tally of active cases has climbed to 40.

CDE News

 

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