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MALTATODAY 14 March 2021

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 14 MARCH 2021 NEWS Jesus - the Living bread which has come down from Heaven - compare John 6:51 with John 6:27-58 Mary - the Ark of the Lord God of the New Testament - compare 2Samuel 6:9-16 with Luke 1:39-56 for Bible Catholic Teaching Verses – ~ to receive a soft copy by email ~ ~ to receive a hard copy by address post ~ sms 79280325 LAURA CALLEJA NEW hospital COVID-19 reg- ulations, limiting the time new fathers can spend with their partner and child, have been de- scribed as "ridiculous" by some parents. One expectant father, whose child is due in April, spoke to MaltaToday about the new reg- ulations at Mater Dei Hospital. Under the new rules, expect- ant fathers are allowed to be with the mother during child- birth. However, they must leave the hospital straight after, when the mother is transferred to another ward for postnatal treatment. "Using the word 'visitors' to categorise us fathers is de- meaning… This is something special for us; it is special for both the mother and the fa- ther," he told this newspaper. "Of course, the mother is do- ing all the work, and the only thing the father can do in this case is to be there for moral support. Now we're being de- prived of that also." He said being treated as a vis- itor was ridiculous because he wasn't going to be to 'visiting' his partner; he would be there to provide support and help take care of their child. "It's different when you visit some- one in the hospital who's sick. I am not trying to compare because they are two different scenarios. But we should not be categorized as visitors. We are part of the experience; we're a family at the end of the day." He said the rules have been causing him and his partner a lot of anxiety. "I'm trying not to think about it. I cannot change the rules, so I'm just trying to put it in the back of my mind. So there is no point in me being super-anxious about it when I can't change it. At the end of the day, I don't want to make it out like it's all about me when the mother is going through a lot more." He said he could not under- stand why someone who tests negative to COVID-19 could not be by his partner's side. "I've been home for the past month. I'm barely visiting any of my family, especially since the COVID-19 situation got out of hand in Malta." Hospital staff informed the father the measures were in place to safeguard staff, and patients using the room right after them. "It doesn't make any sense. They said the rooms were going to be cleaned after every use; if that's true, then what does it matter?" he asked. Fathers will have an hour every day to visit mothers. "It's better than nothing but it doesn't justify it either. I don't need an hour to infect someone... just 15 minutes. It doesn't make sense." The couple will be carrying out a last-minute shop before their due date, to then hold up in their home by themselves after the delivery of the baby. "We won't be going out, and nobody is coming home to vis- it," the prospective father said. On its part, Mater Dei Hos- pital has said that while it ap- preciated that mothers and birthing partners wish to see no changes to current visiting arrangements, the hospital had no option but to reduce visit- ing times following delivery to one hour per day. "The hospital is constrained to reduce possi- ble exposure to unvaccinated mothers and newborns, and to take all measures to reduce the risk of positive cases in the ob- stetrics wards, leading to lack of staff due to quarantine." MDH said the decision was taken in the best interest of mothers and newborns, given the presence of the UK variant of COVID 19, which has in- creased the risk of infection. For expectant fathers, COVID hospital rules are creating anxiety "I'm trying not to think about it. I cannot change the rules, so I'm just trying to put it in the back of my mind. So there is no point in me being super-anxious about it when I can't change it. At the end of the day, I don't want to make it out like it's all about me when the mother is going through a lot more." Lawyers argue that Malta drug testing lab is not accredited LAWYERS for a man indicted for trafficking cocaine have ar- gued that Malta's forensic labo- ratory was not accredited to EU standards, in a case which could have massive repercussions on drug convictions in Malta. Morgan Izuchukwu Onuorah from Nigeria had been charged over his alleged involvement in a drug deal in 2010. He had pleaded not guilty to conspiring to traffic drugs, supplying and being in possession of cocaine and money laundering. Earlier this week, his lawyers, Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia requested a Constitu- tional reference. They argued that a European Council de- cision on the accreditation of forensic service providers and an EC Regulation setting out the requirements for accredi- tation and market surveillance, requires member states to have accredited forensic service pro- viders for laboratory activity. This legislation was trans- posed into Maltese law in March 2016.Forensic service providers have to be accredited by a national body as being in conformity with the EN ISO/ IEC 17025 standard. In the Onuorah case, the drugs found had been analysed in a laboratory which "at the time was not accredited to EU and local standards," the law- yers said. This "leads to short- comings and great prejudice" which breach the accused's fundamental human rights, they said, because the lack of accreditation left doubts as to the results obtained by the lab- oratory. Organisations can under- go two different sorts of third party assessment: certification and accreditation. Certification confirms that the organisation is in compliance with the EU procedures whereas accredita- tion confirms that the organi- sation is competent to perform certain tasks. If the argument is upheld, the case could have a ripple effect on all drug cases before the courts in which the substanc- es were analysed in Malta after 2016, when the standards be- came law. Forensic Science Laboratory reacts Contacted for a reaction, the Forensic Science Laboratory at the University of Malta, which carries out tests on behalf of the courts, pointed out that Council Framework Decision 2009/905/JHA clearly states that the framework decision shall apply to DNA profiles and fingerprint images and does not deal with drug analysis. "At the end of the day, it is not whether a laboratory is accred- ited or not, but that the labo- ratory maintains chain of cus- tody. We would be stupid to accept a case from the Inquiring Magistrate if we know that the Laboratory must be accredited. The science is moving towards accreditation but for now this is not a must in drug cases." "Nowhere does the Frame- work nor Maltese legislation mention Drug Analysis. The purpose of the framework was to protect data protection. DNA and fingerprint images may pose data protection is- sues, however the analysis of drugs reveals the identity of the drug and nothing about the in- dividual."

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