Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri confirmed that discussions are underway with the relevant authorities regarding enforcement in Gozo during the Carnival season. PN MP Maria Deguara suggested that stricter regulations need to be put on youths "who think that they are immune to the disease."
During Tuesday's parliamentary session, PN MP Kevin Cutajar asked Camilleri what precautions he is considering for this period in order to put people's concerns to rest and ensure that there is no repeat of the influx of positive cases seen after the Christmas period.
Camilleri said that throughout the pandemic, especially during summer, Maltese people were heading to Gozo in a tourism trend, since Maltese were not travelling abroad. "We even incentivised people to come to Gozo with reduced ferry prices. In fact, I do not think that establishments in Gozo suffered as much as those in Malta did."
In light of this, he said that he does not think that the Carnival itself will result in an influx of people heading to Gozo as all mass activities have been cancelled with just minor, controlled events like drive-in cinema and exhibitions taking place.
"There are more people who want to come to Gozo because of the three days of vacation that children get from school. This is good for internal tourism and the issue is not that they come to visit, but about having masses of people congregating and enforcement of rules will take place," the Minister confirmed.
However, he added that it is also a responsibility of the people to follow the directives from the health authorities. "There is a concern about separate households coming together and I think that apart from the measures we will be implementing, we also need to educate people more and remind them to be responsible and stick to their bubbles."
He explained that discussions underway with various authorities to control the situation without hindering internal tourism and, in the coming days, he will be in a position to inform the public about these measures.
'Youths should be asked to disclose their accommodation address and number of people staying there' - Maria Deguara
PN MP Maria Deguara called for further information as to what measures are being discussed, especially those relating to youths.
She explained that families are not the main issue as, despite events being cancelled, youths will still go to Gozo.
She suggested that youths should be stopped when boarding the ferry and asked to provide the address of their accommodation and the amount of people that are supposed to be staying there. The houses can then be checked over the Carnival period and if there are more people staying there than previously indicated, the law can be enforced.
"Youths are youths, and they think that they are immune to disease, but they need to understand that there are vulnerable individuals around them," she remarked.
Camilleri shot her claim down, accusing her of blaming the spread of the virus on youths - "I completely disagree that youths do not care for their elderly or relatives and that they are the one spreading the virus."
He added that the opposition seems to be targeting Gozo and suggesting that the island be closed off, which cannot be the case.
Notably, all events across Malta and Gozo have been cancelled this year as per directives from the health authorities, even the much-anticipated celebrations in Nadur, Gozo, were cancelled, with the local council saying that the police will be on the lookout for spontaneous celebrations.
Gozo Tourism Authority CEO Joe Muscat told this newsroom that accommodations are not fully booked for the Carnival season as they usually are at this time of year and bookings are at the same level as previous months during this pandemic.
Gozo minister Clint Camilleri on Tuesday urged all those planning to travel to Gozo for carnival to abide by health authority guidelines. He said discussions were under way with various authorities to ensure the situation did not get out of hand, but did not provide further details when questioned in parliament. Despite the cancellation of all festivities, a spike in accommodation bookings over the period has been noted. It comes despite a historic decision to call off all carnival festivities after health authorities linked an ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases to gatherings during Christmas. The health authorities have stated they are “closely monitoring” the expected exodus to Gozo next month. Camilleri objected to Gozo being made out as a target. “Will closing Gozo solve the problem? The argument does not make sense. What is important is that health guidelines are abided by”, Camilleri said. The minister was pushed by Opposition MPs to name concrete measures to prevent a spike in COVID-19 infections as a result of thousands of youths travelling to Gozo. Camilleri emphasised the need to maintain social bubbles and adhere to health guidelines when it comes to group...
Europe is too vulnerable to the global power of the dollar and must ensure the international standing of its euro currency to challenge US dominance, the EU executive urged Tuesday. The European Commission made its pitch in a plan that sets out ways to help build the power of the euro and chip away at Washington's supremacy, though the 19-page proposal rarely refers to the United States by name. After their traumatic experience with the Trump administration, Europeans would like to mitigate that dominance and the paper released on Tuesday sets out several ways to achieve that, though most will be difficult to attain. "The EU will always champion alliances with like-minded partners. This is our absolute preference. We are committed to multilateralism, openness and beneficial partnerships," said EU executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis. "But given the more confrontational geopolitical landscape, we have to be ready to protect ourselves against unfair and abusive practices imposed from elsewhere – and to bolster our defences against them." The effort comes a day before the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden, who many in Europe assume will turn the page from the...
A total 41% of people in Malta want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 "as soon as possible", the highest rate in Europe. A Eurobarometer survey published on Tuesday confirms that only 4% of the population over 16 would blatantly refuse to get the jab, the lowest figure across the EU. The survey was carried out in all 27 EU states in December. Respondents in Malta were the only ones to answer questions via telephone, the rest of Europeans answered online. Almost half of the respondents in Malta (45%) said they would be more eager to get the vaccine after others to ensure that no side-effects were suffered. 42% of the respondents in Malta agreed vaccines were the only way to end the pandemic. The high rate of interest in getting the jab was also reflected in the Maltese being the most afraid of getting COVID-19. A whopping 83% of respondents, the highest in Europe, said they fear getting infected in future. The EU average stood at 54%. The EU, including Malta, started giving out the vaccine on December 27. In Malta, a total of 13,002 doses were administered by Monday. The figure is slightly lower than the 13,275 doses Health Minister Chris Fearne said would be...
Nature Trust has appealed to the public to dispose of plastic waste in the appropriate way and not dump it around, as it will tend to end up in the sea. In a statement, it also urged the public to immediately reduce the use of single-use plastic, even that still in the market. The government has halted the import of single-use plastics as of January 1. “Although this is a step in the right direction and to be commended, this alone will not solve the issue of the marine plastic debris which is every year ending up in the stomach of thousands of marine animals, either killing them outright or causing them to wither away in extreme suffering.” Micro-plastics were now also ending up in food and humans “are now poisoning themselves”. Nature Trust said that only this weekend, a dead juvenile loggerhead turtle was found entangled in marine debris covering it from head to back. Most of the debris consisted of abandoned fishing nets. "This is not a one-off case as, during 2020, more turtles were brought ashore entangled in such marine debris. One turtle, Maggie - now at our rehab centre - lost all three flippers," it said. And another turtle rescued during December had more than 28...
Minister for Research, Innovation and the Co-ordination of Post Covid-19 Strategy Owen Bonnici and Minister for Education Justyne Caruana announced that the newly built MCAST Resource Centre will open its doors to staff and students by the new academic year in October.
The Resource Centre is part of a €32.8 million European Union co-funded project and the college's strategic plan for vocational education, research and campus facilities that will continue to establish the college as a centre of excellence. "The state-of-the-art centre, which includes a new library, flexible learning spaces and an auditorium, will heighten the college's drive in research and innovation," a government statement read.
Minister Owen Bonnici said that, "this investment will serve to help place MCAST as a leader in international applied research. At the recent Research and Innovation Expo held last month, we witnessed the varied vocational and applied research at the college with over 90 researchers and professionals immersed in different specialisations".
He continued saying that, "creating an international hub will help researchers develop solutions for society's pressing problems and opportunities for industry. MCAST will continue to secure international collaboration with universities, higher education providers, industry partners and research laboratories. As a government, we are committed to continue working towards building a robust ecosystem full of innovation through research."
Minister Justyne Caruana said that "as the MCAST student population and the need for upskilling continue to grow, improving resources and accessibility is a high priority and the impetus for continued investment. We need to create dynamic learning spaces where lecturers and students can be inspired to collaborate and create. The aim is for strategic industry partners and the public to use the services offered by the college. With this openness, we will effectively create learning opportunities for all within the wider community".
MCAST Principal and CEO Professor Joachim James Calleja said that, "the College is participating in 19 international projects with an investment of over €2.5 million. With the new infrastructure, we can continue to grow internationally and establish MCAST as a centre of excellence in vocational education and training. The research and innovation hub is unique in that the college is well placed to encourage collaboration with industry and an interdisciplinary approach. Our success lies in having access to different areas of expertise and being able to share it. We will extend our cooperation beyond the campus while providing our students with opportunities to connect directly with potential employers".
Construction work on the Resource Centre has been completed while work on the mechanical and electrical installations is currently in progress.
After having announced that it would dedicate its sponsorship to the cause, the LifeCycle Malta Foundation has donated the sum of €25,000 to the University of Malta’s Research, Innovation & Development Trust (RIDT) for its research into polycystic kidney disease (PKD).
LifeCycle Malta Chairperson Shirley Cefai called this sponsorship a considerable team effort despite the challenging times, and thanked Nestlé Malta for making it possible.
The research, titled ‘Genotype-Phenotype of Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney disease in Malta’, aims to provide a genetic diagnosis to patients with ADPKD in Malta, and is being conducted by the UM’s Anatomy and Cell Biology Department in collaboration with the Departments of Medicine and Pathology at Mater Dei Hospital.
Prof. Jean Calleja Agius, Prof. Emanuel Farrugia, Dr Edith Said, Dr Graziella Zahra, Dr Christopher Barbara and Ms Nathalie Bonello are leading the study.
Dr Said highlighted the interdisciplinarity of this research project and said that with researchers having identified several genes essential in PKD for analysis and compiled customised gene panels, the research will, over a period of three years, investigate the cases of most families with ADPKD in Malta.
PKD is an inherited disorder of cyst clusters developing primarily within the kidneys, causing the kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. The symptoms of the disease may be severe during childhood and adolescence and mild in later stages of life. Clinical presentation and progression of the disease can both be very variable. PKD can be inherited in a dominant (ADPKD) or recessive (ARPDK) manner.
Recruitment for the study is ongoing. 35 individuals with ADPKD have consented to participate in the study. The results of the first 16 individuals, on whom a next-generation sequencing genetic analysis was conducted have identified a rare pathogenic mutation in 4 patients and another rare pathogenic mutation in another.
All recruited individuals will be tested using the customised gene panel, and people who test negative will then go under a more extensive genetic investigation to identify novel genes in patients with ADPKD. The patients have so far been diagnosed clinically, which will allow for the identification of individuals in the families at risk of developing PKD and enable correct and timely surveillance.
University of Malta Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella, who was also present at this donation, talked about this being an excellent example of the University’s service to society through its research mission, while RIDT CEO, Mr Wilfred Kenely, who was instrumental in securing this sponsorship, expressed his gratitude at how all entities came together to help bring more knowledge to light on this disease, saying the solution is in the science.
Donations to LifeCycle Malta Foundation can be made by Revolut on 99329101, by PayPal online and via SMS on 5061 7370 = €2.33, 5061 8920 = €6.99, 5061 9229 = €11.65, or via a call to 5160 2020 = €10, 5170 2005 = €15 and 5180 2006 = €25.
Opposition leader Bernard Grech is implementing a major reshuffle of his shadow cabinet which is expected to be finalised by the end of the week. Nationalist Party sources told Times of Malta that Grech was holding one-on-one meetings with his MPs, and had already informed a number of them that they will soon be shadowing new portfolios. Grech was elected PN leader in October but has since left the responsibilities assigned by his predecessor Adrian Delia unchanged. It is standard practice for new party leaders to appoint a shadow cabinet of their own. Who is moving where? With Grech still meeting MPs on Tuesday afternoon, no official announcement has yet been made. However, party sources have revealed a number of expected changes. Among those touted for a move is firebrand MP Jason Azzopardi who is expected to be stripped of the justice portfolio and instead handed work and competitiveness. Azzopardi legally represents the family of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, which party insiders have said creates a potential conflict for him maintaining the justice portfolio. He is expected to be replaced by Karol Aquilina, himself an outspoken advocate for justice for...
PN Leader Bernard Grech will this evening continue to meet MPs as he works on a shadow Cabinet reshuffle.
One-to-one meetings with MPs have been ongoing for the past week or so, sources said, adding that the PN leader was finding some resistance by a few MPs who do not want to see their portfolio changed.
The sources said, however, that an agreement is close, and the reshuffle could be announced in the next few days.
The changes are likely to reflect the recent Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Robert Abela.
The current Cabinet is made up of 27 people, including the Prime Minister.
There are 28 MPs, including Bernard Grech, but the former Oppositon Leader, Adrian Delia, has told Grech that he does not wish to be given a shadow portfolio. This means that the entire PN parliamentary group, bar Delia, will likely be given a ministry to shadow.
Sources said the negotiations were at times difficult because some MPs did not want to lose their current portfolio. However, the process is expected to be concluded in the coming hours.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how underfunded and powerless the World Health Organisation is to carry out the tasks the world expects of it, an independent expert panel said Tuesday. The heads of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response presented a report to the WHO's executive board which said that the UN health body could have acted faster and more decisively at the start of the pandemic to avert catastrophe. But they stressed that the delays and failures could largely be attributed to the weak position of the UN agency, and said more funding and reforms were desperately needed. "The world is more reliant on an effective WHO than ever before," said former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who co-chairs the panel with former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark. But, she told reporters, the same countries that have turned to the WHO for leadership during the crisis "have kept it underpowered and under-resourced to do the job expected of it." COVID-19 was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 before seeping beyond China's borders to wreak global havoc, costing more than two million lives and eviscerating economies. The WHO...
Estate agents seeking a licence next year must register their interest online, Parliamentary Secretary for Lands and Construction Chris Agius said on Tuesday. Addressing a press conference, Agius noted that a new law reforming the sector, which came into force in July, impacts thousands of people. “Real estate is an important sector. Even in 2020, there were close to 14,000 promises of sale registered, amounting to €3 billion,” he said. The online registration is open to all those who have completed courses and have the licence in hand as well as those who plan on signing up for the course in the coming months, Agius said. Those in this category must register by the end of March. The licences are granted upon the completion of a training course that is to be offered by the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) or any other accredited institution. Those who are only involved in up to two sales a year are exempt from having to obtain a licence but must inform the board overseeing licencing of their sales. The licence will be valid for five years. After this time, operators must prove they have kept up to date with training. Agents can register here.
A gender-corrective mechanism is only one element of the reforms necessary to achieve gender balance in parliament, according to the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE). Referring to the ongoing debate about representation of women in parliament, the NCPE said such reforms acknowledge the need to address the structural obstacles to political participation experienced by women and delineates several actions required to achieve this aim. MPs are currently discussing a gender-balancing mechanism which would see seats added to parliament to ensure gender balance. The mechanism would kick in if one gender obtains fewer than 40 per cent of seats and would allow up to 12 additional seats to be added to re-balance parliament. The proposal, first floated in 2019, is backed by the Nationalist opposition, which has however proposed amendments to existing proposals. Since the allocation of additional parliamentary seats will kick in when the under-represented sex obtains a percentage of less than 40%, this mechanism will not be necessary if political parties and institutions are more effective in increasing the participation by women in political life by, for example,...
Nature Trust - FEE Malta has renewed its appeal to the public to reduce marine litter after a dead juvenile loggerhead turtle was found entangled in plastics and abandoned fishing nets.
This was not a one-off case, the NGO said, adding that several similar cases had been reported during 2020.
One turtle, Maggie, which is now being cared for at Nature Trust's rehabilitation centre, lost three of its flippers.
Furthermore, one of the turtles rescued during December 2020 was recently found to have over 28 grams of plastic in its stomach (photo below). The turtle would have likely died had these plastics not been removed.
The number of plastic debris and marine debris keeps increasing each year, even in Maltese waters, the NGO said.
"Nature Trust - FEE Malta is strongly appealing to the public to dispose of plastic waste in the appropriate way and not dump it around, as it will tend to end up in the sea. Furthermore, people should immediately reduce the use of single-use plastics, even those that are still in the market."
The Maltese Government has halted the import of single-use plastics as of 1 January 2021.
"Although this is a step in the right direction and to be commended, this alone will not solve the issue of the marine plastic debris which is every year ending up in the stomach of thousands of marine animals, either killing them outright or causing them to wither away in extreme suffering. In the case of fish that people consume, micro-plastics are now ending up in our plates and system too. Humans are now poisoning themselves."
The eNGO also appealed to fishermen to try and recover lost fishing gear, and to avoid using nylon nets that are the cause of death of so many turtles in the Mediterranean.
It also called upon the Prime Minister, who has stated that during his legislation that more attention will be given to the environment, to make an effort to promote more sustainable methods of fishing, so as to help save hundreds of marine animals that will otherwise lose their lives in our outwardly clean and healthy Maltese waters. More action by the government is also called for to reduce marine debris, it said.
One of the alleged hitmen in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination has been awarded over €7,000 in damages and interest, over delays in an 18-year court case stemming from a €2 million holdup on a cash van in 2000. Alfred Degiorgio, under police custody since December 2017 and currently awaiting trial over his alleged involvement in the journalist’s murder alongside his brother George and co-accused Vincent Muscat, had filed constitutional proceedings claiming that his right to a fair hearing had been breached. His claim stemmed from criminal proceedings linking him to the violent robbery wherein some Lm884,200 were stolen from a Group 4 cash van in Canon Road, Santa Venera in October 2000. Emanuel Formosa, a company employee who had been driving the van, was cleared by a Magistrates’ Court. Another co-accused, Mario Cutajar, at whose house the stolen cash had been subsequently discovered, was convicted for handling stolen property and was given a suspended sentence. Degiorgio, named by the other co-accused under police questioning, was also found guilty of handling stolen property and was handed a suspended sentence in August 2017. The following year, that conviction was...
The Netflix-produced series Lupin will have been watched in 70 million households within its first month, setting a record for a French TV show, the streaming platform forecast on Tuesday. On the basis of current trends the series − starring Omar Sy of Untouchable fame − will have breezed past Netflix’s biggest recent blockbuster The Queen’s Gambit which has 62 million views and other English-language hits including Bridgerton. The Netflix projection covers the 28 days to February 5, the company said. “70 million, that’s crazy”, Omar Sy tweeted. “So proud that Lupin is the first French series to have such an international success.” Only half of the first season's 10 episodes have so far been available on Netflix.They are top of the viewing charts in around 10 countries, including Brazil, Vietnam, Argentina and Spain. The 1905 book on which the series is loosely based, Arsene Lupin − Gentleman Burglar by French novelist Maurice Leblanc − has shot to the top of book sales on Amazon.fr since the release of the TV show. In the series, based in modern-day Paris, Sy plays Assane Diop who uses the gentleman thief and master of disguise as his inspiration in his quest to avenge his...
The feasibility of turning Floriana into a garden city will be examined in studies commissioned by the environment ministry. Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia is “very interested” in the project, which has been given renewed impetus after a similar proposal was planned for Paris’s Champs-Élysées. A spokesperson said a call for tenders for geotechnical surveys will close on Tuesdayand the results of the studies will determine whether the St Anne Street project will go ahead. The project, which dates back to 2014 and has consistently generated public interest, is “not on the backburner”, the spokesperson said. Floated by four architects from Floriana-based DHI Periti, the project proposes the removal of vehicular traffic from the avenue through an underground tunnel that would free the surface for landscaping to create a recreational area. Cars would drive down into the tunnel at the Lion Fountain and re-emerge just before the roundabout leading to Valletta, while Pope John Paul II Square would also be regenerated. Plans to transform the famous avenue in Paris into an “extraordinary garden” reignited interest in the similar proposal for a much shorter St Anne Street by the four...
Award-winning online casino operator Rootz LTD is celebrating the launch of Wheelz Casino, the third brand in its portfolio. Powered by the developer’s custom-built, flexible gaming platform, Wheelz builds on the foundations laid by flagship brand, Wildz and 2020 addition, Caxino, to provide an enhanced gaming experience for players of all types. Built for automation With a keen focus on automation, the casino’s intuitive interface allows for seamless navigation, wrapped in an eye-catching colour scheme. Players can choose from hundreds of top casino titles developed by a collection of premier game providers, with a diverse array of game genres on offer. Complementing Wheelz’s 1,300-strong back catalogue is a finely tuned rewards program that leverages state-of-the-art machine learning techniques, delivering a high degree of customisation not found elsewhere. Furthermore, payment processes at the online casino are some of the fastest of the entire industry, supported by a dedicated CS Team offering their services in multiple languages round the clock. Star power Marking the launch, the Malta-based company have recruited a global superstar of the entertainment world to represent...
BMW M defied the challenges affecting much of the motoring industry in 2020 and returned the most successful year in its near-50-year history. Sales growth of six per cent saw 144,218 vehicles delivered worldwide during the year, with BMW’s performance arm’s sales being bolstered with the introduction of new models within the ‘X’ range of vehicles. The firm is also hoping to continue its fortunes following the unveil of the new M3 and M4 last year, with both set to be launched in the first quarter of this year. The wider BMW Group’s worldwide sales dropped by 8.4 per cent in 2020, though the overall impact of the coronavirus was lessened by strong performance from its M division cars, as well as its electrified range of vehicles. BMW finished with a total of 2,028,659 models shifted in 2020 – down 7.2 per cent on the previous year’s figures. However, sales of models in the upper luxury segment increased by 12.4 per cent year-on-year thanks to the introduction of models such as the 7 Series, 8 Series and X7. Mini’s sales fell by 15.8 per cent to a total of 292,394 units, though some 17,580 were made up of the firm’s latest Mini Electric model, while sales of John Cooper Works...
Lawyers for Meghan Markle on Tuesday sought a court ruling against a British newspaper group for breaching her privacy and copyright by “the unlawful publication of a private letter”. The Duchess of Sussex has taken action against Associated Newspapers Ltd over publication of the letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas, before her wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018. Her lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke, told the High Court in London the defence offered by the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline website had no realistic chance of success. “We say that, actually, at its heart, it is a very straightforward case about the unlawful publication of a private letter,” he said. The publication of extracts from the letter was a “plain and serious breach of her rights to privacy, and the defendant has no viable defence to it”, he added. Not only did it breach media guidelines the newspaper was signed up to but was a “triple-barrelled invasion” of her legal rights to private correspondence, a private, and family life. Rushbrooke asked who had the right of control over the contents of the letter. “There can only be one answer to the question: it’s not the editor of the Mail on...
A record number of entries have been submitted for the 2020 Malta Architecture and Spatial Planning (MASP) awards, the Planning Authority said on Tuesday. It said in a statement 70 entries were submitted for 10 categories. The awards not only attracted the well-established architectural firms but also a new generation of architects and interior designers. Most of the entries were for the Restoration and Conservation Award for projects which enhance the historical integrity of old buildings and the legibility of their original design through sensitive interventions. This was closely followed by the Interior Architecture Award for Commercial or Public Buildings and the Urban Planning Concept Award. The Interior Architecture Award for Commercial or Public Buildings is for projects which excel in managing to fulfill the true potential of an interior space of new or refurbished commercial buildings or public buildings and maximise the benefit of environmental influences such as natural light, sound, ventilation and incorporate innovative material. The Urban Planning Concept Award is given for projects which are still in their concept stage and where innovative planning solutions...