LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese health authorties revealed that there were delays in a Pfizer shipment this week which saw people being sent home after they turned up for their appointment.
Many elderly persons who went to health clinics for the Covid-19 vaccine were turned away due to vaccinations running out in several localities. Elderly people complained that since no one had informed them about not being vaccinated, they only found out after having gone for their appointment as issued by the Health Department. This also happened to a group of elderly people with mobility problems, as well as vulnerable people. However, they were still sent back.
According to the Health Ministry, the next delivery of the Pfizer vaccine should have arrived in Malta last Monday. This caused a two-day rescheduling of vaccination appointments.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne said that Malta received fewer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than expected.
According to the Ministry for Health, 232,335 vaccine doses were administered with 65,205 being the second dose. No deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours. However, 401 people have lost their life due to coronavirus. So far, Malta has 549 active cases of COVID-19.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that primary schools, childcare centres and kindergartens will reopen their doors on Monday, while non-essential shops and services will be reopened on 26 April.
Abela was delivering a joint press conference with Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne as well as Superintendent of Public Health Professor Charmaine Gauci while announcing the government’s plans to start lifting off some of the restrictive measures currently in place.
It is not yet known when bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen. Abela stressed that this would depend on how the situation develops.
Malta was shut down in March when 510 coronavirus cases were registered on a single day.
According to the Maltese government’s plans middle schools and secondary schools will open on April 14 and 16 respectively. Post-secondary education institutions will continue to deliver their lectures online.
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne announced that as from April 18, churches can reopen their doors and resume holding mass whilst following mitigation measures against the coronavirus. As from April 26, groups of up to four people will be allowed in public while tourism will open as from June, 1.
Maltese Prime Minister declared that measures can be reintroduced if hospitalisation numbers will increase again.
The Malta Union of Teachers said it hoped that the lifting of restrictive measures would not lead to another wave of new positive cases which would put everyonès lives at risks and force schools to close down again. The union added that hundreds of educators still have not received their appointment to get their first Covid-19 jab.
The Union of Professional Educators reacted to the newly announced plan saying it recommended on enforcing social distancing measures in schools, strengthening contact tracing procedures and a revision of a previous risk assessment.
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association is anxiously awaiting the reopening of restaurants and urged the government to announce the target date ahead of 26 April when non-essential shops and services can reopen their doors to customers. The association welcomed the news that Malta will reopen for tourism by 1 June depending on the coronavirus situation.
The Malta Chamber of SMEs declared that the gradual relaxation of Covid-19 measures announced by the government was “clearly a manifestation of the breakdown of social dialogue”. “Even though everyone appreciates the delicate situation at the moment and in principle we agree with the staggered re-opening, one cannot but feel a great level of worry and anguish at how businesses will continue to survive this extra stretch.” Businesses which are still closed, it said, were now facing the worst situation and declared that some sectors have reached a very critical level and unless helped more will not make it into the recovery stage.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta and Libya agreed to facilitate visa procedures for Libyan citizens who will now be able to obtain a visa from Tripoli. During a joint press conference addressed by the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela and new Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, both sides discussed the importance of cooperation between both countries in various sectors.
It was also agreed that flights between Malta and Libya will resume “within days”.
Abela invited Prime Minister Dbeibah and the government of national unity to visit Malta, saying it’s the first EU member states to do so.
“We have always considered Libya as our partners,” Abela said as he announced that Maltàs embassy in Tripoli and the consulate have reopened their doors. “Malta looks forward to resume direct flights to and from Libya, as soon as the situation allows,” he said.
Maltàs Prime Minister highlighted its willingness to continue cooperating with Libya in order to ensure that the country returns to normality as soon as possible. “A strong Libya governed by Libyans for the Libyan people,” he said. A strong and prosperous Libya means that Malta and Europe can prosper, Abela added.
Facilitating of investments, the fight against coronavirus pandemic and assisting the government in ensuring Libyàs security were mentioned by Abela during the press conference.
Abela reiterated Maltàs commitment to continue voicing its support for the North African country in the European Union, and promised that the country will continue to assist.
Malta will also be assisting Libya in securing anti-coronavirus vaccines, the prime minister revealed.
This was the first meeting between the two leaders since Dbeibah was elected to head a transitional government in February.
Libya will go to polls in December.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela has left Malta to Libya to meet with the country’s new prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. According to local reports, on the agenda both leaders will discuss immigration, travel between the two countries, trade and even security in the southern Mediterranean Sea.
Earlier this month, the Maltese ambassador to Libya, Charles Saliba, arrived in Tripoli to assume office at Maltàs embassy in Tripoli. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the Government of National Accord, Mohammed Al-Giblawi said that the Maltese ambassador’s start of work in Tripoli “is an important step in establishing cooperation between Libya and Malta and to end peoplès suffering as they apply to obtain visas to the European country.”
Malta is expected to officially open its embassy in Tripoli after Ramadan.
Last December, the Libyan media reported that Malta has agreed to start issuing Schengen visa from its embassy in Tripoli. During that time, the Maltese Finance Minister Clyde Caruana paid an official visit to Tripoli in which he met Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq, Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha and Transport Minister Milad Maitouq.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Keith Schembri, former Chief-of-Staff of former Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was granted bail against a deposit of 60,000 euros and a personal guarantee of 90,000 euros. He was released from pre-trial detention subject to a number of conditions. These include a curfew from 8pm to 7am, a prohibition on approaching the airport or beaches and the surrendering of his passport, ID card and driving licence.
The court rules that there is enough evidence for the accused to be placed under a bill of indictment.
Schembri was arrested and charged on March 20 in connection to money laundering, fraud, forgery and corruption. Two magisterial inquiries which were initiated following an application filed by then Opposition Leader and Partit Nazzjonalista leader Simon Busuttil led to the arrests of eleven individuals. The magisterial inquiry into allegations of corruption carried out by Schembri and Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna was concluded in September last year while a second inquiry into allegations of graft and money laundering between Schembri and former Managing Director of Allied Newspapers Adrian Hillman was concluded last month.
Former Chief-of-Staff Keith Schembri was denied bail twice with the magistrate previously saying that allegations he had forged documents did not give her peace of mind and that there was real danger of interference in ongoing investigations.
The next court session will resume on May, 11.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta has administered almost all the vaccine jabs it has received so far. According to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne, only 918 of 203,820 vaccine jabs had yet to be used or been kept aside for second doses.
Chris Fearne has also called on the European Commission to negotiate with Russia so that the Sputnik V vaccine can be made available to all EU citizens.
Meanwhile, the Superintendent for Public Health Prof. Charmaine Gauci announced that 6 individuals that have been vaccinated against coronavirus passed away. Gauci said the majority of those who received the vaccine are protected against the virus. However, one is not protected 100 per cent. She advised those individuals considered as vulnerable to adhere to the measures aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus.
Prof. Gauci added that the UK variant has become more dominant. According to the latest studies, 79% of the positive cases have been attributed to the highly infectious variant.
According to official statistics, Malta has 1,660 active cases with an average age of 39 years. 7,011 individuals are in mandatory quarantine. 385 patients have lost their life due to coronavirus. The latest victims are a 71-year-old female and a 46-year-old male, both died at Mater Dei Hospital. A 77-year-old male passed away at Gozo General Hospital.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The bomb used in the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017 was brought to Malta from Italy. This was confirmed this morning in court by convicted hitman Vince Muscat who was testifying against brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, their associate Jamie Vella and suspected hitman George Degiorgio.
Muscat, already testified against his once co-accused brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio. The witness pleaded guilty to the crime and admitted his involvement in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. After a bargaining plea deal, Muscat was handed down a reduced jail term of 15 years and granted a presidential pardon over his role in the 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop.
Vince Muscat confirmed that the bomb was brought to Malta via Sicily onboard the catamaran by Robert and Adrian Agius. The bomb had 500g explosive material. Muscat said that suspected hitman George Degiorgio always wanted a bomb instead of firing a weapon to kill Caruana Galizia. He added that George Degiorgio asked Agius borthers to get a bomb. “They had to bring three from Italy. They had a lot of Italian friends. They would frequently fo to Italy. They would frequently tell us they are going abroad to Italy.” Asked if Agius brothers gave reasons why they were going abroad, Muscat replied: “they would speak in front of me. They would tell George, however, they would go up to Italy on drug deals. Jamie has a lot of Italian friends. Some of them used to come to Malta too”.
It was also emerged that Robert and Adrian Agius used to import AK-47. Muscat testified that on the day of the assassination, they were in possession of an AK-47 which was also brought from Italy for any eventuality and as a means of self defence.
ROMA (ITALPRESS) – Keith Schembri, former Chief-of-Staff of former Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was among 11 individuals who were questioned at the Policès Financial Crimes Unit on Saturday morning before they were escorted and arraigned in court early on Saturday evening.
Among those accused of corruption, money laundering and fraud, there were also Keith Schembri and his wife Josette; Malcolm Scerri, Schembrìs business partner and Brian Tonna together with Karl Cini from the accounting firm Nexia BT. Schembri was also accused of false testimony and forgery. Criminal charges were also issued against 20 companies related to all the accused.
All the accused were denied bail after pleaded not guilty to the accusations. Freezing orders were issued and the accused cannot transfer property and were granted an annual allowance of just over 13,000 euro.
In May 2017, former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil presented evidence to court on alleged money laundering worth some 650,000 euro involving Keith Schembri and Adrian Hillman, former Managing Director of Allied Newspapers, between 2011 and 2015 through the use of offshore accounts in Gibraltar and Switzerland. In March 2016, assassinated Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia reported on the alleged crimes in March 2016.
Adrian Hillman is expected to be extradited to Malta from the United Kingdom to face justice.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Former Office of the Prime Minister Chief of Staff Keith Schembri has revealed that he expects to be charged in court in the coming days.
In a lengthy Facebook post, the former chief of staff who resigned in 2019 said: “In the coming days, I am expecting to be charged in court. Not because I’ve committed an offence. I’m guilty of my role in Joseph Muscat’s team which led Partit Laburista, a party I love, to several victories.” He added that he is expecting the day, hèd be able to clear his name of any allegations levelled against him.
Keith Schembri is expected to be charged with alleged kickbacks he gave to former Allied Newspapers managing director Adrian Hillman.
Schembri claimed he is being persecuted.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta has registered 510 new COVID-19 cases overnight breaking its own previous single day record of 362 infections registered on March, 4. Two patients died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The latest victims were a 73-year-old man and 64-year-old man who died at Mater Dei Hospital. 361 patients have been declared free from coronavirus thus 3,182 remain active. Until Tuesday, the health authorities administered 105,416 shots of coronavirus vaccine with 35,093 individuals receiving their second shot.
In a televised message to the nation, the leader of the Nationalist Party and the Opposition, Bernard Grech, said that a state of national emergency in public health needs to be declared in order to give the health authorities additional powers. Grech insisted that this decision must be taken as soon as possible so that no more drastic measures need to be taken, which are increasingly becoming inevitable in order to curb the pandemic, which is currently out of control. He said that today’s number of positive cases confirmed that the Maltese government lost control over the pandemic while the situation is leading to the collapse of the health services.
12 associations representing various medical professions declared their concern and said that one year on, Malta is losing the battle against coronavirus. “The resources for intensive care will become completely exhausted in a matter of days, if not hours,” while the age of patients being admitted to intensive care is getting younger and younge.
Unions representing the teachers and other professions in education said that the list of schools with problems of students and teachers in quarantine is growing, as the number of positive cases in schools is also increasing.
The civil society network and the union representing the nurses are calling for the closure of the airport and a temporary lockdown.
The Malta Employers’ Association appealed to the government to focus on attempting to reach herd immunity within the shortest time possible, together with tangible measures to reduce the daily number of infections, as the current numbers will certainly be a strong deterrent for anyone to visit Malta on holiday, and are causing untold disruptions to the normal functioning of most businesses in Malta.