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GHA now has 50 ventilators and is seeking more

The drive through testing facility opened yesterday. Photo: Eyleen Gomez

- Government confirms no new cases in Gibraltar overnight

The Gibraltar Health Authority has increased its stock of ventilators ten-fold since the outbreak of Covid-19, the acting Medical Director, Dr Krishna Rawal, said yesterday, adding that a further 15 are being sourced even as the hunt for medical equipment continues to consume much of Europe and America. 
The GHA has bolstered its stock of ventilators - crucial for treating serious cases of the virus - from five in January to 50, as things stand. 
But, speaking yesterday at the daily press briefing at No.6 Convent Place, Dr Rawal said a further 15 had been ordered, 10 of which are expected to arrive in the coming days. 
“These are hot property at the moment so we also have to bear in mind that what we’ve ordered may not necessarily arrive,” he said. 
“We’ve anticipated this, we’ve been working tirelessly for many many weeks and a number of these orders were put in a long time ago and a number of the high-spec ventilators have to be made when they are ordered it’s not like they’re sitting on the shelf for us.” 
This comes as medical experts here continued to predict an imminent hike in the number of  cases of Covid-19 in Gibraltar. 
Dr Rawal said: “We will start to see an increase in numbers, I am certain of it. But the idea being that as the numbers increase our medical facilities and our support facilities and our restrictions and other measures we’ve put in place run parallel to that.” 
He explained that although the number of confirmed cases had not changed in the last 24 hours, the level of sampling had. 
“When the results come back I’m certain that we will see some more positives,” he said. 
The opening of the drive-through Covid-19 testing facility at Rooke yesterday will lend itself to a hike in the level of sampling taking place in Gibraltar. The tests are done by invitation only and people should not attend of their own initiative.
The facility is capable of sampling up to 50 persons per day. On its opening day on Monday 15 of the 24 persons invited to attend to be tested did so. 
Dr Rawal explained that the GHA applies a clinical question and criteria to whom it decides to swab for the virus. 
“We’re all going to get it, the swab itself is there just to diagnose whether you have it at that point,” he said of the rationale behind it’s method of sampling. 
Additionally, Gibraltar will be in a position to process test results entirely in Gibraltar upon the arrival of an extractor device. 
“At this point everything else is in place except for that one piece of equipment which we are just waiting on confirmation but I am expecting that within the next couple of days.” 
“I’m not going to give you a definite answer on when we get everything up and running because although we’ve done the training, we’ve got the chemicals, the agents available and the machines available, everything is like a jigsaw puzzle, everything needs to come together but we are certainly aiming at the end of the month,” Dr Rawal said.