Updated 1253 – Three new cases of coronavirus
After three consecutive days with no reports of new coronavirus cases in Malta, the Health Department said that three cases were identified during the past 24 hours. With the same number recovering, the number of active cases remains stable at 32.
Swabbing remains at a health rate, with more than 1,000 persons visiting one of the different centres or else tested randomly at hospital or in one of the country’s nursing homes.
In two of the new cases, the affected patients had demonstrated no symptoms.
Updated 0903 – Newspaper Review
The Malta Business Weekly quotes a legal advisor with the US embassy, Richard Daynes, who warned that Malta could end up on the gray-list of the Financial Action Task Force unless Moneyval recommendations were implemented fast.
L-Orizzont says that newly appointed Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà led over 1,100 investigations when he headed the Economic Crimes Unit. The paper says he won nine in ten of all cases that were prosecuted.
In-Nazzjon quotes Opposition Leader Adrian Delia who criticised Prime Minister Robert Abela for delaying the expulsion of former minister Konrad Mizzi. Delia said that the prolonged action cost Malta millions of euros.
The Times follows the testimony of Inspector Kurt Zahra before the Caruana Galizia inquiry where he said that Yorgen Fenech had photos of the terms and conditions of the pardon granted to middleman Melvin Theuma.
The Independent quotes Inspector Kurt Zahra who told the Caruana Galizia inquiry that businessman Yorgen Fenech knew from as far back December 2016 that an early general election was going to be called the following year.
The Malta Business Weekly reports on the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination on Wednesday which revealed that playright Mario Philip Azzopardi has submitted a play entitled ‘Who killed Daphne?’ a year before the murder.
L-Orizzont quotes Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli who told parliament that the government is aiming for a target of 700,000 tourists by the end of the year. The minister said €5 million were invested in reskilling workers in the tourism sector.
In-Nazzjon reports that the PN General Council will convene today to discuss proposed amendments to the party’s statute. The paper says the changes will renew the political party to reflect contemporary society.
The Times quotes a review by the Auditors Office which questioned the ability of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority to look out for and report safety hazards in minor construction projects.
The Independent says that the Gozo Animal Welfare Unit is waiting for approval by the Prime Minister’s Office to extend hours from mornings, five days a week, to 24/7. The Gozo SPCA is urging authorities to increase emergency hours.
L-Orizzont says that the Malta Gaming Authority refused or withdrew 44 licenses last year from 89 applications. The authority’s annual report confirms that 53 new licenses were granted during 2019.
Updated 0801 – Malta safest destination in Europe – Tourism Minister
Malta is the safest destination in Europe to travel to, said Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli during an interview on Quest for Business, anchored by Richard Quest on CNN. Farrugia said that Malta was one of the first countries to propose the concept of safe corridors in Europe, an idea which was followed-up on a European level by several countries.
She said that Malta was the first European country to close its borders despite the importance of tourism. “Way back in February, our priority was to contain the virus.” She described Malta as a success story for having tested more than one out of every five persons.
Farrugia Portelli insisted that Malta is well-prepared to welcome tourists from 22 destinations as from next week.
Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat denied informing Yorgen Fenech about the possibility of an early election. Earlier yesterday morning, the public inquiry on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. was told by Inspector Kurt Zahra that Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind, knew that the general election would happen earlier back in December 2016.
Speaking in Parliament, Justice Shadow Minister Jason Azzopardi said that the fact that those apparently involved in the killing knew of the early election, was another “damning indictment” against former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. From his end, the former PM insisted that such suggestions were the fruit of fantasy.
Jason Azzopardi, who is appearing as a lawyer on behalf of the victim’s family said that he was aware of other shocking facts but could not speak for the time being until they emerged in the Courts.
These accusations were not the only ones to trouble Muscat this week. On Tuesday, his former Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri, testified that the former PM had called him to stop Yorgen Fenech from leaving Malta rather than calling the police.
No new coronavirus cases for third day running
There were no new cases of coronavirus for the third day running. A total of 923 swab tests were carried out, taking the country’s tally to beyond 90,000.
With six people recovering, the number of active cases has gone down to 32. 11 of these are still receiving care in hospitals.