Author: Fiona Galea Debono

Education officials handed some secondary school students the highest possible assessment marks in certain subjects, even though the pupils did not attend classes last year, according to reports to the teachers’ union. An inquiry is under way after teachers realised that their Year 11 students’ final results did not reflect what they had been provided with by their school. Instead, the Education Department issued a ‘projected mark’ for absentees without involving any teachers or telling them what they had planned to do. “It is ridiculous,” one teacher who was affected, said. “In a school, the student who was first in…

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Plans to regenerate the public library area in Floriana aim to address the key question of how to inject new life into a space while restoring and enhancing its character, according to the entities behind the proposal. The plan is to bring stakeholders together to apply for funding and make the regeneration project happen, said David Felice, executive director at AP Valletta, which is working on the project in collaboration with the National Book Council. He asked: “How can we give books importance if even getting to the library is a nightmare?” The pilot project stems from a collaborative agreement…

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A quarter of COVID-19 patients in hospital do not have symptoms but are at Mater Dei for other health reasons and were found to be positive following routine testing for the virus. These asymptomatic patients have all been vaccinated, the Health Ministry has said. They underwent the required pre-op swabbing, or were tested at emergency, depending on their unrelated health problem. As of Monday evening, 30 COVID-positive patients are being treated in hospital, the health ministery said. There has been a steep rise in patients,  from 19 on Saturday to 34 on Sunday and 39 on Monday. However nine have…

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Malta’s recent ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage means it now has a set of rules, regulations and standards it must adhere to. Considered a “massive step”, the ratification recognises the importance of Malta’s UCH and means the country is committed to its management and protection as stipulated by international convention, said Timmy Gambin, associate professor at the University of Malta. It is also recognition by UNESCO of Malta’s efforts in the field and is “a positive step forward for its cultural heritage in general”, said Gambin, who heads the national agency’s UCH unit. In…

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Government vouchers worth €20,000 have been collected for 10 charities but,  even though it has reached its goal, the Sharing is Caring campaign is not stopping there. The project, set up by the Sigma Foundation, Forestals and RUBS, has managed to draw in €2,000 worth of government vouchers for each of the charities to distribute to those in need. But, rather than rest on their laurels, the wheels are in motion to raise at least another €10,000. Sigma Foundation CPO, Keith Marshall, said the campaign has been approached by too many charities. Five new organisations – Inspire, Foodbank Malta, Dar…

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A man with a rare disease who is dependent on medication that is out of stock has said he feels like his life is being played around with by the health authorities as his health “hangs by a thread” and he receives mixed messages.  Joseph Mifsud suffers from Cushing’s Syndrome, a condition caused by having too much of a hormone called cortisol in the body, which can be serious if untreated. An MRI had revealed a tumour in the pituitary gland and Mifsud, who has had two brain operations in the UK to try and control the disease, described it as…

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Visitors can have beneficial effects on the preservation of prehistoric sites, contrary to common belief, a study on the impact of COVID-19 closures has shown. Among the “surprising” findings, they can reduce risks of damaging avian and rodent activity on Malta’s megalithic temples. It would have been expected that the closure of the sites during the pandemic would have had a positive effect in terms of visitor impact, with the biggest change being the lack of them. But while the most obvious effect of COVID-19 on the prehistoric monuments was the elimination of negative visitor impact, the unprecedented situation has…

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A quarter of Maltese who contracted coronavirus still suffered from symptoms four to five months after, a COVID-19 follow-up study has revealed. And about 22 per cent of former patients said they feel worse since they contracted the virus. The figure was described as “impressive” by consultant cardiologist Caroline Magri, who has analysed the data. While 77 per cent of the random population sample felt the same as they did pre-COVID-19, a fourth of those who felt worse suffered from fatigue months after they shed the virus. A total of 23 per cent reported having shortness of breath. A fifth…

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People are still facing problems downloading their vaccine certificate, even though the document has become crucial for travel.  To date, more than 237,790 certificates have been downloaded, meaning around 25 per cent of those currently eligible to access them have not yet done so. While many may have chosen not to retrieve them, others are reporting persistant problems and the health ministry says most are down to issues with verifying information.  One disgruntled vaccinated person said he was “technically, ready for travel” on June 25, having received his second AstraZeneca vaccine on June 10. However, since then, he has been…

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Theatre directors who have forged ahead with their productions have said they are dealing with a lack of clarity and confusion, as “illogical” COVID-19 regulations mean they will make losses. Willing to take all necessary health precautions, they just want things to be “fair, practical and viable”. Speaking last week, before the new rule on ‘bubbles’ was introduced, they said they consider the measures to be “unreasonable and unjust”. The irony of the situation is seen in the fact that A Midsummer Night’s Dream, currently being staged at the Mosta Amphitheatre, does not require the audience to be vaccinated. Arbitrary…

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