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Director of Public Health on virus risk in Gibraltar: 'Lump in my throat. Worried.'

The Director of Public Health, Dr Sohail Bhatti, said last night that the most dangerous period for Gibraltar in the Covid-19 crisis was still to come, confessing to a “lump in my throat” over his concern about its potential impact on this community.

In a series of candid late-night tweets in which he also expanded on key changes in the GHA’s approach to combating the virus, Dr Bhatti was unequivocal in his message.

Just hours earlier, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo had signalled changes in the GHA strategy during the 4pm press conference, for example on issues such as screening and use of masks.

At around 11pm last night, Dr Bhatti added to that information in a highly-unusual string of tweets in which he spoke about temperature screening at the border, the use of masks, plans for contact tracing and the use of technology to assist with that.

He said the GHA had a coherent plan to "seek and destroy" the Covid-19 virus, including screening frontline workers, tracing contacts and secluding the infected.

He expanded too on the issue of screening at entry points, which the Chief Minister had said was under consideration.

He added that frontline workers would be screened by their employers and reminded people of the key symptoms of Covid-19 and to self-isolate and contact 111 if they suffered any of them.

Dr Bhatti reflected too on the forthcoming decision, likely to be taken next Monday, to allow the over 70s out for a short period of exercise every day, adding that as lockdown dragged out, this became more important.

And he said the government would step up contact tracing of infected people in the community in order to contain the spread of the virus, including through the use of a new app that will soon become available.

Dr Bhatti also shared advice on the use of masks,  signalling a slight shift in the position until now.

The advice on the use of gloves, however, remained the same.


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