Covid-19 statistics offer room for hope, but not for complacency
The Covid-19 restrictions are not in vain, the Minster for Public Health Dr John Cortes said yesterday, as he announced just a small change in the number of detected cases here but warned Gibraltar must not become complacent.
There are currently 34 active cases out of a total of 69 confirmed cases, with 35 people already recovered.
But with increased testing and 241 results still pending, Dr Cortes warned that the number of cases would “spike” in the coming days - officials expect 30% of those cases to be positive - and that it was vital to “flatten the curve” of infection.
And as more and more people recover, Dr Cortes said people must not assume those who have been through the illness will be immune to the virus.
During the daily press conference at No 6 Convent Place, acting Medical Director Dr Krishna Rawal echoed that recovery does not make people “superman”, adding that they could still pass on the virus to another person.
He encouraged all those now recovering from coronavirus to continue taking all the necessary precautions such as social distancing, and covering coughs and sneezes.
“Once again I have to warn everyone, there is no reason at all to be complacent, it’s quite the contrary, it is quite possible that [the numbers are] at least an indication that our measures are justified and we may be slowing the rate at which the virus infects Gibraltar,” Dr Cortes said.
“But it is infecting Gibraltar.”
“Numbers will increase, but if they do slowly and the number of people who recover creeps up slowly, the curve of increase of active cases will be flattened and the GHA will be able to cope better to look after all of us.”
“That is why we must continue to strictly implement all of our measures.”
“If we become complacent and stop following public health advice then those figures will most definitely rocket up and we will not be able to cope if we cannot cope then some of our loved ones will die.”
“So remember how important it is to stay at home, to stay safe, if you have to go out respect the distance between you and anyone not living in your household.”
He added five people have been admitted into St Bernard’s Hospital, with one patient moved to the intensive care unit.
Dr Cortes said that at this stage he was expecting to see more hospital admissions, and perhaps even a small number of deaths.
“It may well be that because people are responding, we have been so far able to keep this down,” Dr Cortes said.
Dr Rawal added that the social restrictions implemented by the government had been “timely and wise”.
“I would like to think we are flattening the curve and I can’t help but hope that is what is happening at the moment,” Dr Rawal said.
“But I think there is no room for complacency with this one. We must continue to plan for a spike.”
He added: “At the moment the statistics are supporting a flattening of the curve, and long may it continue.”
Dr Rawal said there are planned contingency measures in case 75% or 50% of medical staff are too sick to work.
He described how the GHA had been planning hard to ensure the hospital could still deliver treatment and care whatever the impact of the virus.
He revealed too that the Chief Executive of Health Education England, Professor Cumming, will be travelling to Gibraltar as an external advisor who will counsel the GHA on any gaps in their operations.
The GHA will begin random sampling today via the new drive-through facility at Rooke.
This will provide public health officials a clearer indication of the spread of the virus in the local community.
Dr Rawal said he is grateful to those who accept the invitation to be sampled, but added that this can be declined if people are uneasy with the idea.
“Don’t feel obliged to go through this random sampling if you feel uncomfortable with it,” Dr Rawal said.
He added that the GHA will be screening for other infections as well after people presenting with the symptoms of coronavirus have returned negative results.
Dr Rawal explained the understanding of coronavirus is very short lived and testing for further infections would help medical professionals to better understand infections spreading in the local community.