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Free COVID self-testing kits could have massive benefits says PN candidate

 - COVID-19 - Jan 10 SHARE ON:
Free COVID self-testing kits could have massive benefits says PN MP

Taking to Facebook, Nationalist Party candidate Alex Borg highlighted the Opposition’s recommendation for COVID self-testing kits. 

He revealed that as he himself adheres to quarantine measures due to the virus, he realised upon discussing with several people through phone the benefits introducing self-testing kits could bring following, what he deemed, a failure when it comes to the contact tracing system. 

Borg hypothesised a scenario wherein government accepted self-testing kits and parents and teachers carried out these same tests before sending their kids to school. This, he argued, would have reduced the spread of the virus far more efficiently given the start of the new school term. 

He also said that restaurants and hotels could have continued to operate far more efficiently if the system were approved and regulated by the Superintendent for Public Health. 

A client could have used the test and avoided going to such establishments if they tested positive and thus not have excluded someone who could not take the vaccine. ‘Every individual who could not go to these establishments would be a direct hit to all owners.’

‘Why is the government not considering this proposal by the Opposition?’ he asked. ‘I appeal to the government to take this proposal seriously and introduce it as soon as possible, with free kits introduced to all families.’ 

Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci and other health officials previously alluded as to why self-testing kits are not being allowed for use. 

The main reasons being touted are that people with no medical training can perform tests but make mistakes when carrying them out, potentially leading to people thinking they’re negative when in fact they are positive. Such tests, they stated, need professional attention. What do you think? 

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Several classes remain online due to quarantines as schools reopen

 - COVID-19 - Jan 10 SHARE ON:
Several classes remain online due to quarantines as schools reopen

Children returned back to their desk today Monday 10th January 2022, but several classrooms had to resort to online schooling methods due to many students and teachers still stuck in quarantine. 

Malta Union of Teachers president Marco Bonnici revealed that on Friday, representatives of church, state and independent schools met with the Education Ministry to plan for the return to school 

With delays pushing the date from last week after concerns were raised by the MUT, students first started online lessons last week following an agreement between the union and government to decease the impact of a spike in COVID cases over the holidays. 

Tens of thousands of people had to quarantine after cases blew over well over 1,000 daily. Bonnici said that schools surveyed their students and teachers in the past days to figure out how many were in quarantine and determine whether specific classrooms should remain online. 

‘At the moment we are mostly concerned about the recent changes in quarantine rules that did away with the need for release letters from the health authorities and placed the onus of returning to school on the individual. We will have situations in school where people return before they should’ he said. 

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Meet the first-ever executive chairperson for Malta’s Cannabis Authority

 - Local - Jan 10 SHARE ON:
Meet the first-ever executive chairperson for Malta’s Cannabis Authority

Mariella Dimech has been appointed as the first Executive Chairperson of the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis. 

Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation Owen Bonnici issued the appointment, which will last for a period of three years. The first Board of the Authority has also been appointed for a period of three years, featuring a host of professional educators and experts. 

Dimech herself is a psychotherapist by profession and has worked with Caritas for 21 years. She was the coordinator of all ‘Tama Ġdida’ programs and services for 10 years. 

Responsible for the creation of clinical programs for all services as coordinator, she also ran the San Blas Therapeutic Community for six years. The concept of residential treatment for drug victims was introduced for the first time whilst she lead the community. And this just scratches the surface of her work in this sector. 

The Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis will have several vital functions going forward. 

These include duties as regulator for non-profit associations whose associations involve cultivation and possession of cannabis for member distributions as well as organising or promoting educational campaigns on responsible use of cannabis. 

Dimech will be overseeing the creation of all the necessary systems with immediate effect. She will be joined by Youth and Community Studies lecturer Janice Formosa Pace as Deputy Chair Person, psychotherapist Nadine Brincat and Sina Bugeja, who served as Chief Executive Officer – Special Projects within the Ministry for Health. 

Medical doctor Marius Caruana, psychotherapist Charles Cassar, lawyer Gabriel Farrugia, clinical psychologist Paul Micallef, Sedqa Director Charles Scerri and lawyer Joe Reno Vella as Board Secretary will be part of the team as well. 

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Majority of kids with traces of second-hand smoking survey reveals

 - Local - Jan 10 SHARE ON:
Majority of kids with traces of second-hand smoking survey reveals

A study showed that the vast majority of children participating had traces of second-hand smoke in their bodies. This was despite nearly three-quarters of parents concerned reporting that the children were not exposed to smoking at home. 

Shedding a spotlight on the hidden impact of tobacco which potentially exists in the age cohort, the study took urine samples from 174 children aged 9 to 11 from five different public schools. 

Although 72.4% of parents reported that their children weren’t exposed to tobacco smoke at home, the urine samples revealed that a whopping 95.4% of the kids were exposed to nicotine. Another 98.3% were exposed to nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone (NNK), a known lung carcinogen derived from nicotine. 

Lead researcher Dr Noel Aquilina from the UOM’s Department of Chemistry revealed that since almost all children were exposed to tobacco smoke, the exposure does not occur only at home.

This means exposure occurs in transit, such as when walking or in cars, or during other social activities wherein adults smoke in the presence of children. He said that this study should show how there needs to be better monitoring of children’s exposure. 

Children tend to flush carcinogens from their body slower when compared to adults. In Malta, it is prohibited to smoke in private cars carrying kids under 16, but there are no restrictions on smoking at home, outdoors or in a kid’s presence. 

Aquilina also explained that many studies have looked into the impact of second-hand smoke on adults over the years. However, these often relied on parent’s questionnaire data.

This particular study was the fifth in the world that checked for the level of second-hand smoke exposure in kids by looking for smoking-derived carcinogens in their urine. 

While 23% of the children were exposed to very low levels of second-hand smoke, the majority 70.7% were exposed to significant levels. Three children (1.7%) could be classified as active smokers from their biomarker levels. A total of 16.4% kids reported that someone smoked at home. 

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