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Drive-through testing facility ready, as nearly 900 people sign up as volunteers

Photo courtesy of GBC

A drive-in Covid-19 testing facility is expected to be ready today, in a development that will increase Gibraltar’s testing capabilities alongside the addition of locally-based testing facilities.

This comes as some 886 people signed up volunteers to assist local efforts in tackling the worldwide pandemic.

Speaking at yesterday’s daily press briefing on the state of play of the pandemic, Civil Contingencies Coordinator Ivor Lopez said: “In order for the Director of Public Health to have a true picture of the state of the issue that we have we need to carry out tests and that will continue.”

The new facility, situated at Rooke, will see people attend by invitation only and tested in their cars.

This, alongside the establishment of a field hospital with capacity for at least 192 beds at the Europa Sports Hall, will complement the key medical facilities at St Bernard’s hospital.

Drawing a distinction between the two establishments Mr Lopez said the field hospital would be for checking and monitoring those who were not ill enough to be admitted to hospital, whilst St Bernard’s would be used for the most acute cases.

This comes as the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, reported a quiet night at St Bernard’s A&E department with no overnight admissions.

As of Thursday, there were 10 confirmed cases of the virus in Gibraltar, of which two have fully recovered and eight remain active.

Some 124 tests have been sent for analysis with 24 results pending.

Additionally, the UK has commissioned the Crown Agents to procure and deliver Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and testing kits for the overseas territories immediately.

This was one outcome of a call between the leaders of the different UK Overseas Territories and included Baroness Sugg, the UK OT Minister and Wendy Morton, the Minister for Europe.

“UK Ministers made clear the unwavering determination of the UK to support the Overseas Territories at this difficult time,” Dr Garcia said.

“The call allowed an exchange of views and plans on the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Another outcome is that both Gibraltar and the Cayman Islands suggested ways in which they could assist other territories once they had dealt with our own issues.

“It should be noted that a team from Public Health England visited both Gibraltar and Cayman before the travel restrictions set in. This work continues,” Dr Garcia added.

Yesterday’s briefing also covered developments in education as the days of formal schooling draw to a close.

Following confirmation on Wednesday that Gibraltar’s schools will no longer deliver the national curriculum but will continue to provide a service to the community, the Minister for Education Gilbert Licudi, said Notre Dame, St Anne’s and Westside schools will remain open for those children whose parents need to avail themselves of childcare services.

A questionnaire has been sent to parents which will allow the Department of Education to gauge the demand for this service.

Mr Licudi explained that the new school system will operate between the extended hours of 7.30am and 8.30pm.

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