Coronavirus, Vella “We are all on the same boat”

While the President of Malta George Vella thanked all the health workers for their dedication during this difficult and challenging circumstances, the maltese health authorities while announcing five other new cases of coronavirus, declared that the worse is yet to come.

In a televised message, the President of Malta appealed to the Maltese and all foreigners living in Malta to abide to all instructions issued by the health authorities. “We are all in the same boat and that as part of our extended family, your health is also a priority to us.”

Up to now, Malta has registered a total of 53 patients who were confirmed positive for COVID 19. The five new cases reported today are a 56-year-old Maltese who had a relative who was already positive. The woman had no contact with anyone. A 29-year-old Maltese who was in the United Kingdom between 8 and 15 March. The symptoms associated with coronavirus emerged on March 15. The person had followed the rules on his return to Malta and followed the quarantine. A 33-year-old Spaniard who lives and works in Malta has been tested positive. The man was in Madrid between February 29 and March 9. He showed his first symptoms on March 12. The man went to work for a couple of hours two days before showing the symptoms, but according to the health authorities his colleagues are not at risk. A 35-year-old Maltese who was in Brussels has been tested positive. The man was in quarantine and therefore there was no risk for others. The fifth case is of a 64-year-old Maltese, relative of another patient who was already tested positive. They travelled together to the United Kingdom, but on their return they were put in quarantine and the risk was controlled.

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Opposition and all associations representing various industries and the employers slammed the financial package announced yesterday evening by the Labour government, and declared that it is not adequate and definitely there will be job losses.


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Malta, uncertainity on Pope’s pastoral visit

The Archbishop of Malta Mons. Charles J. Scicluna declared that considering the present circumstances caused by the coronavirus, it seems very difficult that the pastoral visit by Pope Francis will take place as previously announced on 31 May. When he was asked during an interview on the Church radio station, Mons. Scicluna added that there is no official communication of any cancellation yet.

Malta is almost in complete lockdown. The government has suspended all mass events throughout the island and as from Friday midnight all air traffic to Malta will be suspended for an indefinite period. The Archdiocese of Malta has cancelled all masses, and churches are only open for individual prayers.


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Coronavirus, Maltese government announces 1.81 billion aid programme

The Maltese government has announced new measures in a bid to help local businesses and the working community in light of the ongoing crises caused by the coronavirus. Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed that the costed measures amount to almost 2 billion and described the aid package as “generous but required in the present circumstances”.

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna described the government’s aid as better than the average within the European Union. He also said that the Eurozone will be facing a recession. Malta’s 1.81 billion package is equal to 12.9% of Malta’s 2019 Gross Domestic Product.

During the press conference, it was confirmed that 35 million were allocated for health authorities to fight COVID-19.

Scicluna said that the postponement of income tax, VAT, and National Insurance dues for March and April for employers and the self-employed will cost between 400-700 million while this financial package includes loan guarantees which amount to €900 million. He said that these measures will enable banks to help businesses cope. The Finance Minister also said that there will be a direct injection of €210 million to assist the economy so that jobs will be saved.

Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said that those enterprises who suffered from at least a 25% reduction in operations will be helped. Employers are also to be given 350 euro for every employee on quarantine leave and there will be special measures to cover leave for families and the wage bill of businesses who have had to close because of the outbreak of coronavirus.

Schembri also announced that Malta won’t be accepting applications “for new third-country nationals” except for those who are highly-skilled while the government agency ‘Jobsplus’ has launched a new service to assist the third-country nationals who lost their job.
He also said that the Government Housing Subsidies will be increased for those families where one dependent had their employment terminated. The government will also increase the unemployment benefit for those losing their full-time job after 9 March.

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Malta, Economy minister apologises to foreign workers

A day after a controversial statement in the Maltese parliament by the Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, the Minister published an apology via a recorded message on Facebook. During a parliamentary debate last Tuesday, Schembri said that foreigners fired from their work as a result of the COVID 19 crisis should be deported to their own country.

Schembri said he wanted to “get everything clear” after his speech caused a barrage of criticism on the social media. “My choice of words was unfortunate and I apologize if I have offended someone,” said the Maltese minister. He also ensured that third country and EU citizens would not be expelled.

Schembri said that together with the Maltese government, he is united in respect for all workers, regardless of their nationality. The minister added the government is proud that the Maltese economy has not only offered better lives to the Maltese families, but has also opened the doors for European and third-country nationals to build a future. “I thank you for your hard work  and I can’t wait to see our economy get back on track in the interest of everyone who lives in Malta and Gozo”.


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Malta, more pressure on the health system due to the coronavirus

Malta and Gozo are getting more deserted day after day, with few people roaming in the streets. People are staying more indoors, thousands of workers are working from home while tourists spots are almost empty with all museums, bars,  restaurants and hotels are closed for an indefinite period.

The Public Health Superintendent Prof. Charmaine Gauci has confirmed 10 new cases of people found positive for the coronavirus. Most of the 48 cases so far are associated with travel from various European countries. There is also an increase in local transmission case,  other positive cases that are imported from abroad and since yesterday new local transmission cases have been confirmed.

Meanwhile, there is alarm at Mater Dei hospital. After yesterday’s case, the health authorities confirmed two other positive cases of patients who are linked to yesterday’s case which involves an English woman who was admitted to hospital  for a fracture. These new cases are of a maltese man, 57, who was in another ward with another patient. All other patients and health carers are in quarantine despite the negative medical result.

The first elderly people were also confirmed positive for the coronavirus; 70 and 73 years respectively.

An Italian couple, 43, who live in Malta but were not abroad. The woman started showing the first symptoms on March 12 and the man the next day.

There are also two women, 26 and 27 years old who were on vacation in Poland and Germany, and returned to Malta from Berlin on 11 March. They started showing symptoms three days before their arrival and health authorities are underway to identify other passengers who were on the Berlin-Malta flight.

Another woman who was confirmed positive for coronavirus had arrived from London. Together with his family, he is under quarantine.

Another Maltese, 37, showed symptoms on March 9 after being in contact with a foreigner who had traveled to the UK. Health authorities are continuing to search for his colleagues who made contact with him.

The other newly registered case is of a 26 year old woman. She is part of a group of four patients who where confirmed positive a few days ago.

While Malta is fighting the spread of COVID 19, heavy pressure is not only being put on the health services, but also on the business community as this crises is already causing an extremely negative impact on Malta’s economy.

The Maltese government has decided to extend the closing days for all schools, educational institutions and child care centers for another month until 17 April. The decision was taken following consultations with the health authorities.

The government has also announced the closure of the Maltese airspace as from 20 March. Meanwhile, the airport authorities are appealing to passengers who were planning on travelling in the coming days to contact their respective airlines for more information about their flights.  As from 21 March, Malta International Airport will remain operational to facilitate the arrival and departure of cargo, humanitarian, and ferry flights until further notice.


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Schembri “All dismissed foreign workers should leave Malta”

The government of Malta said that at this time of crisis as a result of the effect of the coronavirus on the maltese economy, the priority is to ensure the work of the Maltese people. “All dismissed foreigners should be deported,” Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said in parliament.

He insisted that the main objective of the Maltese government is the employment of the Maltese and Gozitans. “The moment that foreign workers lose their jobs, they will have to return to their country”.

There are already reports of foreigners who have been officially informed that their work have been terminated, and were asked to inform the government agencies. If they do not and ignore all instructions, their work and residence permit in Malta will be revoked immediately.

During the parliamentary debate which was requested by the Nationalist opposition, Minister Schembri clarified that he referred to foreigners who come from third countries; those not from within the European Union. These workers are employed in various sectors such with security companies and in the tourism sector.

The opposition has raised concerns about the possibility of social disorder by hundreds of foreigners who may lose their jobs in Malta.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has said that most of the commercial community will face economic repercussions. The Maltese government has already decided that from this night, all bars, restaurants and social centers must be closed.

But opposition leader Adrian Delia warned that the situation justified drastic measures from the moment the coronavirus started to spread. He also warned that the lack of immediate intervention by the Labor government would lead to a huge crisis particularly in the labor sector.

So far the Maltese government has not published concrete measures for the business community to deal with the crisis caused by COVID 19. But the association representing medium-sized enterprises has asked its rappresentatives not to lay off employees before the government announces the measures to support the economy.

The Maltese Italian Chamber of Commerce, the only Chamber of Commerce in Malta recognised by the Italian government, representative of an important Maltese and Italian business community, is shocked and completely dissociates itself from the claims published in the national media and attributed to the Minister of Economy of Malta the Hon.Silvio Schembri.

“In this moment we should be thinking about protecting everyone’s health, ruther than dividing us. As everyone knows and repeats, the coronavirus does not distinguish between nationalities. We are sure that the minister’s words are the result of a misunderstanding”, The Maltese Italian Chamber of Commerce said.


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Malta confirmed eight other positive cases, one in hospital

The Superintendent of Public Health in Malta, Prof. Charmaine Gauci announced that eight other positive cases of coronavirus were confirmed last night. One of these cases is of an English woman who had been admitted to the Mater Dei general hospital because she had a fracture.
Among the other cases there is a 3-year-old boy. Four of the cases were transmitted locally. The Maltese child was in contact with one of the people currently positive to COVID 19.
The 29 year old English woman living in Malta was also confirmed positive last night. She was not abroad, but on March 5 she was hospitalized in Mater Dei hospital and eight days later she had breathing problems. The Maltese health authorities have taken all necessary precautions inside the hospital. The patient had personal contact with a health worker who is already in quarantine.
Another case concerns an Italian family living in Malta. The father was also found positive when he returned from Rome. His wife and 15-year-old son have now been confirmed positive. Dr Gauci explained that the family was in immediate quarantine.
Another case concerns a 26-year-old Maltese. She returned from England on March 13, remained in quarantine, and the first symptoms began the next day.
A 28-year-old Maltese was confirmed positive. He was in a place where there are other people who were abroad. Maltese health authorities discovered that he had contact with a Sicilian, who had no symptoms. The symptoms emerged on March 15th.
Meanwhile, a 62-year-old man arrived from England and he started feeling the first symptoms on March 15th. On the same flight there was another person who had coronavirus symptoms.
Another Maltese, 52, was also found positive for coronavirus despite having no contact with people who have been abroad or were feeling the COVID 19 symptoms. He works in a private company and currently the health authorities are identifying the cause. It looks like he was in a gym and probably made contact with another person there.
Up to now, Malta has registered a total of 38 positive cases to coronavirus mainly Italian and Maltese, from a total of 1,640 medical test.

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Malta, Tourism minister put under self-quarantine

Malta has registered nine new cases of COVID 19, three of them being the first three cases of coronavirus that were transmitted locally. This was confirmed by the Superintendent for Public Health, Dr Charmaine Gauci, who said Malta has 30 cases of coronavirus, two of whom have been recovered. Gauci said that patients are in stable health.

One of the new cases is a 36-year-old healthcare professional. He developed the first symptoms on March 14 and was confirmed positive after medical tests. Two other people, who are also health workers, were confirmed positive when the health authorities did a contact tracking exercise. According to the Maltese health authorities, the contact with patients was minimal.

Another case concerns another health worker, 23. She developed the symptoms of the virus on 13 March. She was abroad, and according to the health authorities, she was in contact with the 36-year-old health worker or with her roommate who recently was in Italy.

Meanwhile, among the other new cases registered in the last few hours, there is a Maltese, 34, who was on vacation in Barcelona with a 49-year-old Italian woman. She was confirmed positive after her husband returned from Rome with the symptoms of the coronavirus.

A Maltese woman, 56 was confirmed positive after she returned from the UK and a 39-year-old Englishman living in Malta was found suffering from the COVID 19 symptoms.

Two other cases are of a 15-year old Spanish boy, who was with a group of four Spanish students and a young man, 19 who in recent days was in Dublin in Ireland. Before he underwent the medical test, he went to work.

Maltese Tourism Minister, Julia Farrugia Portelli has beenordered by the Maltese health authorities to self-quarantinefor a week, although she was tested negative for the coronavirus. This was confirmed by the Minister on Facebook.

Last week she was in contact with a person who in the last days was confirmed positive for COVID 19. Although last night she was officially informed that her results came negative, the Minister was asked to remain in self-quarantine for six more days.

The Minister said that she will participate virtually to all meetings concerning the tourism industry whixh is being hit very hard by the latest developments concerning the coronavirus. At the moment, the Maltese government is ddiscussing a financial aid package to the tourism industry and to secure all jobs.


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More cases of coronavirus imported into Malta

Last night there were three other positive cases of people with coronavirus who arrived Malta from abroad for a total of 21 cases. Meanwhile, the father of the Italian girl, who was the second coronavirus positive patient in Malta, was confirmed that he had recovered from the disease.

According to the Maltese health authorities, the first confirmed case tonight was of a 23-year-old migrant worker who had been in Dublin in Ireland between 7 and 10 March. The first symptoms of COVID 19 began on 11 March. When he returned to Malta, he was in contact with his family, who are in quarantine.

The other case is of a 20-year-old student who was also in Dublin in March and returned on the same flight. Maltese health authorities are identifying other people, mainly students, who possibly made contact with the patient because he went to the University after he arrived in Malta

The third confirmed case is of a young man, 22 from Portugal, who was in Madrid in Spain. He returned to Malta for business on March 10 together with his girlfriend and three days after started feeling the first symptoms. He immediately went into quarantine. His partner had minor symptoms, but was confirmed negative.

Meanwhile, three people were found violating the mandatory quarantine to control the spread of Covid 19. Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said that the Maltese government is carrying out necessary checks on people. So far, 722 medical tests have been done on people who have returned to Malta from abroad and have shown symptoms of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne has announced the government’s preparations for local hospitals. More than 600 beds are already available for patients who may be positive for coronavirus.


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Coronavirus, more cases registered in Malta

Malta has registered five new cases of coronavirus which bring to a total of 18 cases, all imported from foreign countries.
Meanwhile, the Maltese government ruled out a complete lockdown since all confirmed positive cases of COVID 19 were imported from abroad. This morning the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela declared that all business operations affected directly by the COVID 19 will have all tax and social security payments due for March and April postponed.
This morning the Maltese Health authorities confirmed that the new cases; three foreigners and two Maltese, involve people who entered Malta after trips to Russia, Ireland and Spain.
A russian man arrived in Malta on March 4, but the symptoms of coronavirus came out a week later. The authorities are identifying his close family members and work collegues to be put in quarantine.
A Maltese man was on vacation in Dublin, Ireland and started feeling the first symptoms the day before he was back in Malta on March 10.
Another Maltese man was tested positive after he was in self-quarantine since he has returned to Malta from Spain.
The other two cases involve a foreign couple who were in Spain for four days. They started feeling the coronavirus symptoms one day after there arrival, on March 11.
Meanwhile, last night a 19-year-old Maltese teenage girl was confirmed positive for Covid 19. This is the thirteenth case of coronavirus imported into Malta. The girl was in Brussels between 4 and 8 March. She felt the first symptoms on Wednesday 11 March. Her condition is good.
The Maltese health authorities have also announced that the mother who was tested positive for coronavirus last Saturday has recovered well. Health authorities confirmed that the woman had tested negative for two medical tests conducted 24 hours apart. Therefore, in accordance with established guidelines, this woman is considered cured. The woman was released from Mater Dei hospital and is kept in quarantine in her home for a few days as a precaution.
The Medical Association of Malta together with other trade unions, are calling the Maltese Government to enforce a pre-emptive lockdown for a minimum of three weeks to be enforced with immediate effect. This means all local residents will be in mandatory quarantine and only employees providing emergency services such as Mater Dei Hospital and health centres, power stations, water services and other essential infrastructures would be allowed. People should leave their homes only to buy essential items. All shops and places of entertainment except for pharmacies, supermarkets and groceries and food retail outlets (excluding restaurants and pubs) are to be closed during this period. All schools and universities should remain closed during this period. The airport and ports would be closed to visitors and only allow repatriation of Malta residents stranded abroad. Any repatriations of local residents need to be followed by a strict, mandatory quarantine period of two weeks. No residents in Malta are to be allowed to travel outside the country without permission of the health authority. Transport of goods and cargo will continue unaffected.
Meanwhile the cruise liner Marco Polo was denied entrance to Valletta by the port authorities. The Cypriot government confirmed that on board there is a passenger who is complaining of symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus. Most of the passengers on the cruise liner are Italians.

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