PM insists on COVID-19 booster shot importance: 'The numbers do not lie'

Prime Minister says successful vaccination roll out helped limit COVID-19 restrictions over the past year • Abela slams Bernard Grech for not having the courage to 'take the difficult decisions'

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has once again called on people to register for the COVID-19 booster vaccine dose, insisting it is key for Malta to successfully emerge from the pandemic.

“The numbers do not lie. If you compare the COVID-19 situation with that of last year, we have had more new cases, but the hospitalization rate has remained low,” Abela said.

Interviewed on party radio station ONE Radio by journalist Colin Deguara, Abela explained government’s decision to introduce measures related to the booster vaccine.

“We were faced with a decision – stress on the importance of the vaccine, or introduce new measures,” he said. “Because the country was at the forefront of the vaccination roll out, restrictions have been limited throughout the last year.”

He compared Malta’s situation with that of other European countries like Holland. “Because people did not want to get vaccinated, it led to a higher mortality rate and a more dangerous situation, which resulted in lockdowns.”

He also praised government decisions during the pandemic.

“Those before us, the Nationalist Party used the international situation to make excuses. We worked differently to ensure we protect our people from the negative effects,” Abela said. “What is sure is that we continued to invest in people, so that they do not shoulder the weight of the pandemic.”

The PM hailed the wage supplement as “the most effective tool” in retaining people’s way of life during the pandemic, insisting government will continue to take a pro-market stance so that worker keep their jobs.

Bernard Grech

During his interview, Abela slammed the Nationalist leader Bernard Grech for not having the courage to take the difficult decisions, following reports on Nationalist MP David Thake.

“I do not want to waste much time on Bernard Grech, but he should focus on leading the party he is heading. He is yet to take a difficult decision, and he fails to lead by example, because he does not have the moral authority to do so,” he said.

Abela accused Grech of trying to legitimise the “undefendable”.

“I think he enjoyed the story, because he is now the second worse tax evader in the party,” he said. “He continued to defend tax evasion.”

In a press conference on Saturday, the PN leader said government is yet to carry out recommendations put forward by the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

Abela said government had already consulted with academics and journalists, as well as international institutions, to set up a committee of experts as recommended by the public inquiry.

“Grech painted a picture that this government did nothing on the public inquiry – but why? Because he knows we have just concluded the public consultation on the inquiry,” Abela said. “This shows a lack of political maturity.”

He said government consulted with the assassinated journalist’s family, and new laws will protect journalists at a number of levels.

Hate speech in Maltese society

Speaking briefly on the murder of Paulina Dembska, Abela said he would not comment directly on the case so as to not prejudicate it, but said the murder has created a sense of anger among people.

“In the vigil you could feel that sense of sadness and anger. The case clouded how Maltese society thinks and feels. It does not represent how we act,” he said.

He said government will address issues strongly, so the situation does not repeat itself.

“We will not accept that someone feels scared because of their sexual orientation, religion or who they are,” Abela said.

The PM also paid tribute to Puttinu Cares stalwart Victor Calvagna, who succumbed to his injuries earlier this week.

“I remember the love he had towards profession he worked in. You saw his sense of the children and patients he cared for,” Abela said.