26.04.20 Covid-19 Update


Press    Conference     by    Deputy     Prime     Minister     Dr    Chris    Fearne    and    Health Superintendent Prof. Charmaine Gauci (26th April, 1130) 

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said that for the first time Malta registered no new positive cases since the first case was registered in the country. In addition, 33 other persons have recovered. The rate by which the infection is spreading is remaining low.

He attributed this situation and the recent low number of cases to the timeliness of the decisions taken by the Maltese authorities. Malta has listened but also shared its experience with the relevant international authorities. It is also a demonstration of the strength of the Maltese sector, particularly the amount of testing carried out and the contract tracing process which followed after every case was identified. He also expressed his satisfaction that the public generally respected the directives issued by the authorities.

This ensured that Malta at no point was overwhelmed with active cases and the majority of persons required no hospitalisation. There are currently 162 active cases, which was better than the expectations of the authorities.

Easing of restrictions to be announced within a few days

Fearne said that while it is positive that the trend is very positive, he insisted that the pandemic in Malta and elsewhere is not over. However, he announced that in the next few days “we will look at which measure we can revise, including the provision of health services which had been discontinued as well as changes to improve the social life of the Maltese public as well as to re-start the economy.” This will be carried out in a gradual, controlled manner.

However, not all restrictions will be reduced at the same time, to ensure that there are no risks to the health of the public. “It is important that the measures which will remain in place – and there will be definitely measures which cannot be removed at this stage – have to be observed, otherwise we may end up in a position having to re-introduce such measures, so as to avoid a second wave.

Fearne said that he was certain that a few cases in the community were still present, and therefore maximum attention was still required. He also announced that within two or three days a dedicated app.

Replying to journalists’ questions, he clarified that this app was not meant to be used for contact tracing in the same manner that a number of countries had introduced in the past few days. He confirmed that this type of app will be considered but the authorities wanted a solution which was not invasive on the privacy of citizens. Rather, the app will be used to ensure that if a person experiences a number of symptoms, he or she can verify the level of risk present and to determine whether a swab test is recommended or otherwise.

Health Superintendent Prof Charmaine Gauci said that recoveries continued to increase, however science has not yet proved that persons who recover will automatically gain full immunity from the virus. She said that the majority of cases concern persons between 20 and 35, showing the effectiveness of the decision to restrict movements of vulnerable persons, particularly the elderly.

Regarding the app mentioned by Dr Fearne, she added that the programme will be completely anonymous but at the same time collective data on the symptoms would be gathered by the health authorities to ensure better understanding of the symptoms existing on the Maltese islands.


Government searching for Goldilocks approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions

Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday said the easing of COVID-19 restriction measures was fast approaching but the government was seeking to strike the right balance not to undermine all the sacrifices made so far. 

The key to managing this process, Abela said, was finding the ‘Goldilocks’ period which means not easing off the measures too soon while also not waiting too long either.

Instead the government wanted to find an approach that was ‘just right’. “We need to find the right time, and this will impact the way we will have managed the entire pandemic once this is all over,” he said. While the return to “full normality” enjoyed before the outbreak began will not happen for a long time, Abela said, the country was getting close to easing some of the restrictions and entering into “a new type of normality”.

This, however did not mean the public could go out in the streets and celebrate the end of the outbreak. “If we do that, we will undo all the hard work and sacrifices made so far,” he said. 

It also meant that major restrictions such as the closure of the airport would remain in force for the time being.


No relaxation of COVID-19 measures for retail, experts tell ministers

Health authorities have told ministers a premature relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown measures could lead to a resurgence of the virus, despite a low number of active cases.

The warning was made to ministers this week in an appeal not to relax measures for more retail outlets to open.

Discussions in Cabinet indicated that a relaxation of the COVID-19 precautionary measures could lead to the revision of operations schedules at Mater Dei Hospital and for other medical interventions.

But the mixed messages of hope from the government amid lower infection rates and faster recoveries were interpreted as an indication that small businesses could be returning to some normality within weeks.

“This will not be the case,” a political source privy to Cabinet talks said. “We know small retail outlets will be disappointed about it… ministers know summer will be a great challenge in the sweltering heat of July and August.”


Prefab hospital needed as Malta could end up battling two viruses concurrently – Gauci

The prefabricated hospital project should continue because, come winter, Malta will be dealing with two viruses concurrently – the Coronavirus and the seasonal influenza – Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said on this week’s edition of Indepth.

The government recently launched a tender for the supply and construction of a prefab facility that can treat up to 90 Covid-19 patients. The tender was suspended, and an investigation was launched after a PN MP claimed that the process was vitiated. The claims later turned out to be untrue and the process got underway again.

“It is better to have extra beds and equipment and not use it than end up in need of these resources,” she said.


The Independent on Sunday speaks to former PN Health Minister Joe Cassar  who praised authorities for following WHO guidelines closely and succeeding in flattening the curve. Cassar said he would not have made anything differently himself.

Kullħadd says more than €14 million have been released by the government so far to address jobs under threat. The paper says that separate measures by the Economy Ministry and the Family Ministry are supporting some 88,000 jobs.

It-Torċa speaks to Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo who said that the  €5.3 million fund that Malta has secured from the EU to conduct research in areas related to the Covid-19 is an investment in the solutions of the future,

Il-Mument quotes PN Leader Adrian Delia who insists that the water and electricity rates should be lowered by half to reflect the drop in oil prices. He said that families are paying more than they should be because of bad deals made by the government.

Malta Today says that health authorities cautioned against lifting restrictions on retail outlets too soon, fearing a second wave of infections. The Cabinet is discussing revision of medical interventions at Mater Dei but signals were sent about a possible re-opening of shops.

Illum speaks to shop owners following indications by Health Minister Chris Fearne that the restrictive measures on retail outlets will not be lifted anytime soon. The paper asks how longer businesses in the sector can hold on for.

It-Torċa quotes figures by the National Statistics Office which show an increase of 466 people on the unemployment register from February to March. The paper says that the government’s interventions are limiting the damage to the economy.


British insurers to pay 1.2 billion pounds in coronavirus claims

British insurers are likely to pay more than 1.2 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) on claims from businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic, an insurance trade body said on Saturday.

The estimate includes 900 million pounds for business interruption claims, a record 275 million pounds for cancelled travel and 25 million pounds for cancelled weddings, school trips and events, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said in response to a request for information from parliament’s Treasury Committee.

Checking that insurers were treating customers fairly, the committee of lawmakers last month asked how many of the ABI’s members had stopped offering insurance or changed the terms of existing products.

The ABI said that only 4% of products had been withdrawn in March 2020 and insurers were being flexible over premium payments.

EU Corner

Coronavirus Global Response: EU launches pledging effort

The European Union is joining forces with global partners to kick-start a pledging effort – the Coronavirus Global Response – starting on 4 May 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) and global health organisations have launched a joint call for action to develop fast and equitable access to safe, quality, effective and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines against coronavirus.

To raise funds in support of this endeavour, the European Union and its partners will organise a worldwide pledging marathon. Countries and organisations around the world are invited to pledge to help reach the target of €7.5 billion in initial funding.

European Commission President von der Leyen said: “We need to bring the world, its leaders and people together against coronavirus. In just 10 days, we will launch a global pledging effort. A real marathon. Because beating coronavirus requires a global response and sustained actions on many fronts. We need to develop a vaccine, to produce it and deploy it to every corner of the world. And we need to make it available at affordable prices.”

More News:

For a Fact-Checked Aggregated Service of CoVid-19 related information, please visit:  https://corporatedispatch.com/category/coronavirus/

Additional info


111 – For those who feel symptoms of COVID-19 or who wish further information

21411 411 – For those in mandatory quarantine who require provisions of food and medicine

1772 – For those who are feeling lonely.

153 – For those who require information about the financial measures administered by the Department for Social Security.

144 – For those who require information about the financial measures administered by Malta Enterprise.

2204 2200 – For Maltese residents who were caught in one of the high-risk countries and wish to return to Malta

25981000 – For those who have questions about the educational sector and the impact of the coronavirus

21692447–  For  hoteliers  and  tourists  who  have  questions  about  the  announced measures.

5903030 – For elderly persons bereft of support who need medicines, ready-made meals or food products (fruit and vegetables)

This daily update bulletin is being compiled for the Chamber of Advocates by CI Consulta from Corporate ID Group. CI Consulta delivers policy research and analysis, evaluations and impact assessments up to policy implementation and integration.