Elderly urged to stay at home; petition for schools to close

Updated 08:16 AM
coronavirus swab test centre hal farrug
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

22:40 7th coronavirus case confirmed in Malta.

21:35 The St Teresa convent in Cospicua is on quarantine, as one of its three resident friars has returned from a trip to Italy.

21:10 The University of Malta Academic Staff Association is calling for the cancellation of lectures until the end of Easter recess. But the KSU is concerned about the impact on students, particularly since no alternative lecturing methods have been proposed.

20:57 The National Youth Council has joined the chorus of voices calling for the closure of all schools as a precautionary measure.

20:30 The Family Ministry has advised the elderly and other vulnerable persons not to leave their homes unless this was strictly necessary.

19:45 The Manoel Theatre has cancelled all events taking place this month. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra has similarly cancelled a concert which was to take place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre this weekend.

19:20 PN MP Jason Azzopardi questions why Steward Healthcare has remained silent in the face of the outbreak even though three hospitals are in its control. He argues that its failure to help is the “price of corruption”

19:10 In a brief adjournment speech in Parliament, PN MP Edwin Vassallo urges government to help retailers cope with the outbreak, noting that they had already gone through a difficult period last December.

19:05 Prime Minister Robert Abela and Health Minister Chris Fearne visited doctors in Mater Dei today to thank them personally for their work.

18:35 Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat confirms that no disciplinary action would be taken against those who refused to serve foreigners at Identity Malta over coronavirus concerns, noting that their actions were understandable.

18:30 Air Malta announced that it will be suspending all trips to and from France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland.

The following options are available to affected passengers:

  • Maltese Nationals affected from this travel ban and who are currently outside Malta need to contact the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs Office. Residents can contact this office on +356 22042200 or by email on sitcen.mfea@gov.mt. The Ministry will be organising repatriation flights.
  • Non-Maltese Nationals need to contact their respective Embassies.
  • Customers who are starting their trip within the next 7 days and have queries about their tickets can contact the airline’s call centre on +356 25991230.
  • Customers who will not be travelling within 7 days and all other passengers that require refunds can send an email to refundrequest@airmalta.com.

18:19 There is currently a petition in the UK for schools to close.

18:10 Steward Malta has announced certain measures being taken in Karin Grech Hospital and Gozo General Hospital. They will be effective as from tomorrow.

In the interest of safeguarding our vulnerable patient cohorts at Karin Grech Hospital and the elderly Residences at…

Posted by Steward Health Care Malta on Wednesday, March 11, 2020

18:03 UMASA has asked that University lectures are cancelled until the end of the Easter holidays.

17:54 MEP Alex Agius Saliba has called on the Commission to address the current shortage and increase of prices for hand sanitiser, masks, and gloves.

In a press statement, the Labour MEP said that he has called on the Commission to investigate and address this urgent situation and to clarify what extraordinary measures it will take to ensure that hand sanitizers and protective medical equipment, such as masks and gloves, are made available to European citizens and are affordable.

17:50 Coronavirus is declared as a pandemic by WHO.

17:00 FELTOM’s “perfect storm”

The Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (FELTOM) stated that the current situation has created what it describes as “the perfect storm” for all English language teaching organisations. In a press statement, FELTOM remarked that its sector was the first to start feeling the effects of this epidemic, effects that were confirmed by a survey carried out by Deloitte. The findings, FELTOM says, “are very worrying to say the least: the estimated financial impact of 4,000 student cancellations will result in a devastating monthly financial loss of €1.4 million for FELTOM schools and a €3.4 million loss for the local economy”.

16:42 Gozo Bishop Mario Grech is one of those Maltese people who were brought back to Malta from Italy these past 2 days. Newsbook.com.mt spoke with him via Skype, as he is in quarantine, about the current situation.

16:37 In another press release, the Nationalist Party commented on MUT’s request for a meeting with the Prime Minister and said that this indicates how the government did not prepare schools for the possible transmission of coronavirus.

16:25 Education Minister Owen Bonnici reiterates that at present, there is no reason to order school closure.

16:11 The Nationalist Party suggested disinfecting to be done in public places. Apart from this, it suggested that the Government temporarily suspend VAT measures from small businesses and SMEs.

16:07 Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association postponed its national conference on epilepsy, which was to be held next Saturday. The new date will be announced later on.

15:52 MUMN says patients awaiting coronavirus test results are being placed with others

MUMN said that this is happening because the nurses aren’t being informed that the patients in question are awaiting coronavirus test results. When confronted about the matter, Mater Dei officials said that these are low-risk patients.

15:20 MUT wants to discuss closing schools

Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) is requesting an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Robert Abela to discuss closing schools.

15:07 Trips to and from France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland will be prohibited as from midnight today. This was announced by the Prime Minister Robert Abela during a press conference.

Whoever disobeys the mandatory quarantine will be fined €1,000.

14:45 We’ve received information that a flight from Edinburgh operated by Ryanair was delayed as there were two passengers onboard who were feeling ill. When the flight landed, an ambulance was sent for them. This was confirmed by the OPM and MIA.

This story is still developing.

14:40 The press conference is expected to start at any moment. Newsbook.com.mt will be broadcasting it live.

13:55 A press conference to be addressed by Prime Minister Robert Abela and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne was just announced. It’s going to be held at 2.15pm at Castille.

PM Abela originally had to meet with the Chamber of Architects, but this meeting was cancelled.

13:53 It seems that today panic has resumed in schools, as a number of parents picked their children up from school, fearing that other students may have returned from Sicily. In reaction to this, MUT told Newsbook.com.mt that while it understands the delicate situation in schools at the moment, it encourages the public to follow the directives issued by the authorities.

13:45 The Chamber of Lawyers published directives for lawyers for them to instruct their clients in civil law cases not to attend the court sittings, to avoid contact amid coronavirus fears.

The Chamber is in talks to try to get criminal case sittings postponed, as these are usually attended by a great number of people.

13:44 Ryan’s Pub cancelled its St Patrick’s Day party after dozens of people criticised the establishment for holding such an event in spite of the health measures being taken.

13:42 UPE – Voice of the Workers announced a press conference at 5.15pm during which it will make some recommendations to the authorities regarding coronavirus in schools.

13:40 MUT said that it has noticed that some officials with responsibilities in schools, in the Department and in the Ministry are not respecting MUT directives. The union emphasised that these directives are in place to safeguard the health and security of students and educators. It said that it’s willing to take legal action against those who go against these directives.

13:20 There has been speculation that the Pope’s visit to Malta at the end of May may be cancelled due to coronavirus. Newsbook.com.mt obtained confirmation from the Archbishop’s Curia that the visit is still on.

12:33 Photos published by Reuters today show the current state in Italy.

12:32 Which countries have been hit worst by coronavirus?

  • Italy: more than 10,000 infections and 631 deaths
  • France: 1,784 cases and 33 deaths
  • Spain: 1,689 cases and 36 deaths
  • Germany: 1,200 cases and at two deaths
  • Switzerland: 476 cases and three deaths
  • The UK: 382 cases and six deaths
  • The Netherlands: 382 cases and four deaths
  • Belgium: has 267 cases and one death

12:27 What is the impact of coronavirus on education?

12:09 The latest on coronavirus in Europe

  • Poland is set to close all schools and universities as from Monday. Theatres, cinemas and museums have already been closed. 26 reported cases of coronavirus in Poland.
  • Moldova also closed its schools.
  • The 8th person died from coronavirus in the UK; a 53 year old women who died in Bali.
  • The Las Fallas Festival in Spain was cancelled.
  • Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said that up to 70% of the population might get the virus.

11:54 Daniel Cilia wrote about being ‘locked up’ in Italy and what it reminds him of. Read the whole blog here.

11:47 HSBC has introduced a number of measures to support businesses which may be negatively affected by coronavirus.

These measures, which are coming into effect immediately for those businesses which meet HSBC Malta’s credit criteria, include: capital repayment holidays; fee free temporary short-term working capital funding; faster turnaround on issuance of shipping guarantees and the waiver of urgency fees; as well as the waiver of amendment fees on Letters of Credit impacted by delays.

11:37 Qormi Music Festival is being postponed amid coronavirus concern, as a number of international artists were meant to take part in it. The festival, organised by the St George Committee of External Events, was going to be held on the 23rd of May.

11:28 Anaesthetists warn there aren’t enough resources

The Association of Anaesthetists of Malta issued a press release in which they expressed their concerns over a lack of resources if a great number of patients will require intensive care and ventilation.

It supported the Medical Association of Malta’s appeal against unnecessary travel, as well as in favour of imposing mandatory quarantine on those returning from abroad.

11:15 “Europe is not prepared for the transmission of new diseases” – Alfred Sant

MEP Alfred Sant brought his coronavirus concerns to the table in the European Parliament plenary on the outbreak. He said that Europe, along with the rest of the world, is not prepared for such an outbreak.

Alfred Sant asked, “Can medical research be geared up to match the pace of corona’s travels?” Sant told the European Parliament that, beyond expressions of solidarity with each other on the corona virus epidemic, we need to be clear about the implications for ordinary citizens, including those not affected by the corona disease, of what has been happening.

11:09 The Public Health Directorate press briefing outlined the following points:

  • The 6th coronavirus patient is a Maltese doctor who was in Northern Italy recently
  • He self-quarantined immediately after returning from Italy with his son
  • His son has not attended school since he returned to Malta; he has not shown any symptoms yet
  • The patient’s 4 family members are in quarantine

10:45 Follow the press briefing LIVE

10:34 A press briefing by health officials is about to start in the Public Health Directorate Office in Guardamangia.

10:20 UK MP Rachael Maskell is self-isolating after having had a meeting with Health Minister Nadine Dorries who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus.

10:15 First death in Belgium

A 90 year old man became the first victim of coronavirus in Belgium.

10:00 No permits will be granted for St Patrick’s festivities

St Julian’s Local Council said that following the PM’s directives announced yesterday, no permits will be granted for St Patrick’s festivities to be held next week.

In spite of this, leading establishment Ryan’s Pub is hosting the event inside, with a limit of 500 tickets.


09:55 Malta’s 6th coronavirus case, 1st Maltese

The 6th coronavirus case in Malta was announced. It is the first Maltese person to contract the virus. The authorities said that he is doing well and has been in self-isolation since he returned from a holiday in the North of Italy.

09:48 At 10.30am Public Health officials are to hold another press briefing on the latest updates on coronavirus in Malta.

09:42 MEP Roberta Metsola yesterday criticised the Prime Minister for not providing a translation of his press conferenced on Covid-19 in sign language.

09:32 “Not enough hand sanitisers in schools” – MUT

The MUT is in communication with the Minister of Education and the Permanent Secretary after members are feeling insulted when the Ministry is claiming that all classrooms/schools have sanitizers. MEDE provided only 20 bottles per school, and many of these are 160ml, not 500ml, as shown in the photo shared by the Minister of Education Owen Bonnici yesterday.

In a reply, the Permanent Secretary stated that sanitizers are scarce and MEDE acquired 2,300 bottles to be distributed one in each classroom. The Ministry also asked the College Principals to buy more but there was a supply issue.

Bongu hbieb,Il-gimgha li ghaddiet tqassmu 2,300 sanitzers fl-iskejjel statali biex b'hekk kull klassi hija mghammra b'…

Posted by Owen Bonnici on Tuesday, March 10, 2020

09:30 MEP Alfred Sant tweeted that there is no room for complacency or carelessness as the coronavirus seems to be more obnoxious than originally predicted.

09:27 Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that he’s found great support from EU ministers. BBC is reporting that Conte has not excluded imposing stricter lockdown regulations for Lombardy, the northern region which suffered the worst hit by coronavirus.

09:18 Senior UK Ministers could be tested

Senior UK Government Ministers could be tested for coronavirus after Health Minister Nadine Dorries tested positive. Last week she attended an International Women’s Day event which several ministers were in attendance for, including PM Boris Johnson.

09:00 Germany refusing to close its borders

Health Minister Jens Spahn said that sealing Germany’s borders to avoid the spread of Covid-19 would not work. He is rejecting calls to follow neighbour Austria in denying entry to visitors from Italy.

Interviewed on Deutschlandfunk radio, Spahn said, “The virus is in Germany, it is in Europe. That’s the thought we have to get used to. It will still spread even if you close all the borders. Sooner or later you have to let people in or out and then it starts spreading again.”

FILE PHOTO: German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a news conference to update on coronavirus spread, in Berlin, Germany, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

08:54 Covid-19 in numbers

  • 119,000 cases around the globe; 4,296 deaths
  • 55% of the patients diagnosed with coronavirus have reportedly been cured

08:45 What are the latest coronavirus updates internationally?

  • 168 deaths in 24 hours in Italy, the highest figure yet
  • A Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City has been postponed as some Arsenal players are self-isolating
  • Michigan and Massachussetts have declared a state of emergency as there are now more than 1,000 cases in the US
  • China reports only 24 new cases and 22 deaths; the coronavirus seems to be decreasing, even in Wuhan where it originated from
  • Hubei no longer under lockdown; certain industries are allowed to operate once again, such as public transport
  • Australia is not allowing people coming from Italy to enter
  • Three Formula One members are self-isolating in Melbourne as they await coronavirus test results
  • 242 new cases have been reported in South Korea
  • First cases have been reported in Bolivia, Congo, Jamaica and Turkey

08:25 The University of Malta has released an update on the notice it sent out yesterday, saying that students are still required to attend lectures.

Yesterday the University said that all seminars and events involving foreign lecturers are to be cancelled for the time being. Certain departments have already started cancelling their scheduled talks.

Il-ġimgħa d-dieħla kellu jiġi fostna Lameen Souag, il-mistieden tad-Dipartiment għal din is-sena. B'xorti ħażina,…

Posted by Dipartiment tal-Malti, L-Università ta' Malta on Tuesday, March 10, 2020

08:24 Sources confirmed with Newsbook.com.mt that Identity Malta workers have left the building as they are refusing to provide foreigners with residence permits.

08:09 BOV and HSBC to provide support to tourism sector in loans repayments

The Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association (MHRA) released a statement this morning saying that coronavirus has had a strong negative impact on the hospitality and tourism sector, and for this reason it’s calling for loans repayment relief.

MHRA has been calling upon the main banks and meeting them to extend a moratorium on loan repayments to the Tourism and Hospitality industry. Towards this end BOV and HSBC have in principle agreed to provide general support and consideration toward any areas which main be impacted by such exceptional adverse circumstances. The Association also met with Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli.

More information will be communicated during the forthcoming BOV Deloitte MHRA Q4 2019 Hotel Performance Review seminar to be held on Friday 13th March 2020.

08:06 UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries said that she has tested positive for the coronavirus.

08:01 The death toll in Italy has jumped by 168 to 631, an increase of 36%, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on February 21st.

08:00 The European Union is allocating €25 billion to help economies get back on their feet after being affected by coronavirus.

07:57 The fifth coronavirus case in Malta was announced yesterday. The confirmed cases so far are an Italian girl and her parents, as well as a father and his daughter. All patients travelled to Italy recently.

07:50 Good morning and welcome to our live blog, where we’ll be updating you throughout the day with the latest news on coronavirus locally and internationally.

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