COVID self-test kits ruled out by chief medical officer

COVID self-test kits ruled out by chief medical officer
Jan 1 2022 Share

Making self-testing kits for COVID-19 legal has been ruled out by Chief Medical Officer Walter Busuttil, mainly due to the accuracy when compared to tests carried out at authorised testing centres. 

This comes amid reports of delays in appointments for PCR tests for those getting COVID symptoms. Busuttil said that different countries are taking different decisions when it comes to self-testing. 

So far, the decision for Malta has been not to allow self-testing due to the disadvantage of patients taking matters into their own hands and taking decisions without medical advice. He also highlighted how the self-testing kits are not 100% accurate. 

Overviewing the current situation Malta finds itself in given COVID-19, he made the comments during a TVM interview. Self-testing kits are already used extensively abroad to get as many people tested as possible. 

The wide-spread use has even resulted in shortages and people queueing for hours to get their own self-test kit. They are still illegal in Malta and cannot be sold or purchased. 

Self-testing kits involve the use of swabs and a solution in which the sample is drenched. The solution is then dripped onto a strip which then provides a result within a few minutes. 

Given their widespread use abroad, many vouch for them to become common practice to ease the pressure on testing centres and even test as many people as possible. Do you think Malta should follow suit and make them accessible? 


Prime Minister and Opposition Leader’s goals for new year 2022

Prime Minister and Opposition Leader’s set their priorities for new year 2022
Jan 1 2022 Share

As we celebrate and welcome the new year 2022, both Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition leader Bernard Grech issued a speech in anticipation of what lies ahead. 

For the Prime Minister, improving the environment and ridding the country of hate speech took centre stage as priorities for 2022. Addressing the nation, Abela said that the country needed to address a new priority: the environment and our quality of life.’

In regards to environment, Abela stated how climate change has become a global threat. Despite Malta being a small Mediterranean state, it should still do its part to curb the threat. 

He revealed the looks forward to seeing the results of the greenest incentives Malta has introduced to improve overall air quality and safeguard towns and villages. ‘We are not taking the easy road’ he said ‘as a shift in mentality is required for us to move forward.’ 

Abela also addressed hate speech and how people acted with each other. ‘Unfortunately we still see a lot of hate speech, especially online. If there is any resolution that we should have in place for 2022, it should be to stop hate speech by setting an example and not engaging in tit-for-tats’ he said. 

‘The people’s choice must be respected, and debates on thoughts and ideas must not allow for personal attacks’ he continued, alluding to the upcoming election. The Prime Minister also made reference to the impact of the pandemic, urging people to get vaccinated as the virus continues to play a role in our day-to-day lives.

On his part, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech urged voters to work with him to give the country new hope in 2022. ‘I believe we both agree that our country could be better than it currently is’ he said in his address. 

‘We need to continue building on hard work, generosity and the compassion we have always shown each other’ said Grech. He emphasised the the country should invest more to ensure that jobs pay better wages, adding that this could be achieved by investing in skills. 

He highlighted giving more value to professionals such as educators and nurses and all technical jobs ‘without which no modern society can thrive.’ ‘When we take care of our resources and public funds we would be able to make better and more responsible use of them, and support workers, the elderly and front-liners in the process.’ 

He said that this pledge to do his utmost to bring about new hope in the new year needs the help of voters. He also paid tribute to all those who passed away due to COVID-19. 

He also addressed people suffering lower quality of life, saying that ‘we are with you all. We lived through this suffering alongside you and we want our country to stand by you, not only by remaining cautious when faced by the pandemic but also by recognising the sacrifices of front-liners.’ 


Photo Source: Robert Abela FB, Bernard Grech FB

COVID leading to six day delay in bank cheque clearing

COVID leading to six day delay in bank cheque clearing
Jan 1 2022 Share

After the Central Bank allowed banks to assist them due to COVID-19 staff shortages, cheques might be taking up to six days to clear and cash deposits up to three days as of Saturday. 

The relaxed clearing rules are part of a directive by the Central Bank which aims at ‘outlining banks’ contingency arrangements.’ 

The so-called Directive 17 has set the maximum outages allowed to banks as part of their contingency arrangements when providing essential services to their clients. These services include, among others, depositing and withdrawing cash, depositing, cashing and clearing cheques and bank drafts. 

The directive also gives banks more time to provide these services to clients whilst under contingency situations. This measure will come into effect as of Saturday 1st January 2022. 

The Central Bank revealed in a statement that the changes were being intended to help banks weather the current wave of COVID disruptions such as staff shortages and infection. 

The measures are:

1 – The amount time taken to clear cheques and drafts have been extended temporarily from three days to a maximum of six days.

2 – Cash deposits may also take up to three days to clear.

3 – banks must still provide over the counter cash deposit services for all those customs who do not have access to alternatives such as ATMs. 


Israel moves forward with 4th COVID jab for vulnerable

Israel moves forward with 4th COVID jab for vulnerable
Jan 1 2022 Share

On Friday, Israel started giving the fourth COVID-19 booster shot to people with weakened immunity. 

This makes Israel one of the first countries in the world to do so as it hopes to curb a massive spike caused mainly by the Omicron variant. 

The drive began almost exactly one year after the country began a mass vaccination drive on the back of a data-sharing accord with pharmaceutical company Pfizer. 

Israel’s health ministry approved giving the fourth jab to immuno-compromised people on Thursday. This is the same day the authorities reported over 4,000 new cases of COVID-10 – a number Israel hadn’t recorded since September. 

With heart transplant patients being among the first to receive the new jab, residents of retirement homes and geriatric patients were added to the list to take the fourth dose on Friday. 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel will be a trailblazer for the fourth jab, after it became one of the first countries to offer the third shot to the general public. 

Chile also seems to be following suit in February, with Britain and Germany still contemplating the decision. Over four million people of Israel’s 9.2 million received three shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, with the health ministry not relenting in it’s fight against the pandemic. 

With Pfizer’s anti-COVID pill Paxlovid also making its way to Israel via a flight on Thursday, the country has so far registered a total of about 1.4 million cases and 8,243 deaths due to COVID. 


Photo Source: BBC