Malta-24 – News Briefing – Wednesday 17th June 2020

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Updated 1243 – Six new cases of coronavirus, active cases up to 43

For the second day running, Malta has registered six new cases, identified through 911 swabs. One of today’s cases is part of a known cluster, the Health Department said, which now includes 43 cases. The other five are sporadic, four of which were symptomatic.

With two persons recovering, the number of active cases has gone back above 40, while the country’s total tally now stands at 662.

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Updated 0941 – Newspaper Review

The Independent quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said that PL deputy for party affairs Chris Cardona was to resign following allegations against him in court. Abela said that he had discussed the matter with Cardona directly.

Malta Today reports that PL deputy leader Chris Cardona had not yet formally resigned hours after the Prime Minister announced that he had reached an agreement with him to step down imminently.

The Times quotes Labour Party insiders who said that the party leader Robert Abela and deputy leader Chris Cardona have been discussing the former Economy Minister’s resignation for weeks.

In-Nazzjon quotes Opposition Leader Adrian Delia who said in parliament that Prime Minister Robert Abela only acts when it is too late, criticising his decision to appoint former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar as a government advisor.

L-Orizzont speaks to family therapists who warned against ‘alarmist’ claims about a rise in separation cases during the pandemic. Dr Michael Galea said that conflicts between couples are not causally related to the emergency situation.

The Times speaks to economic crimes investigator Ian Abdilla who said that businessman Yorgen Fenech had offered to speak about corruption cases when he was first arrested but then changed his mind after he was charged in court and denied bail.

Malta Today says that former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat refused to comment on claims by court witnesses implicating chief of staff Keith Schembri and cabinet minister Chris Cardona in the Caruana Galizia assassination plot.

The Independent carries an interview with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit director, Kenneth Farrugia, who revealed that all cases referred by Moneyval will be duly addressed by September.

L-Orizzont quotes a legal advice that says that flights to countries outside the safe list may be considered by the Public Health Superintendent if it can be proved that travel is ‘necessary or essential.’

Malta’s Pubic Health Emergency will be officially over at the end of this month. Yesterday, Government has officially lifted such warning,  paving the way to repeal a raft of legal notices which introduced restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.  This means that controls on social gatherings, the opening of schools or the law courts and suspensions of legal times will no longer remain in force on 1st July.

In a separate legal notice, Government has declared travel open to and from 22 destinations.

Health authorities said there were six new cases of coronavirus in Malta during the past 24 hours, taking the country’s tally to 656. 1,236 swab tests were taken during the same period. Two of the cases reported today form part of the cluster, while the other four were described as sporadic.

Five patients have recovered, meaning there are now 39 active cases.

Political news

Tensions flared-up yesterday evening in Parliament following the developments coming out during the previous hours from the Law Courts during the hearings related to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia yesterday called for an urgent parliamentary debate into events surrounding outgoing Labour deputy leader Chris Cardona and former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. However, this was rejected by the Speaker after an hour of deliberation.

Regarding Dr Cardona, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that he has asked his deputy to tender his resignation.

The magistrate hearing the compilation of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech had ordered the police to investigate  former Commissioner and Governments consultant Lawrence Cutajar over allegations that he tipped off middleman Melvin Theuma on a money laundering probe.

CDE News

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