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Gibraltar mourns a fourth death from Covid-19 in under a week

Jon Nazca/REUTERS

Another person died from Covid-19 in Gibraltar on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths in the first six days of the year to four, compared to seven in the whole of 2020.

The grim news came against the backdrop of a sharp spike in the number of positive cases detected on the Rock over the past three weeks.

That presents this community with a stark reality.

While most of the cases recover without any complications, the larger the number of infected people, the more likely it is that some will require hospital care. It also increases the possibility that some may not pull through.

Since December 13, over 1,700 cases of Covid-19 have been detected in Gibraltar. Until that date, some 1,075 cases had been recorded throughout the whole of 2020.

To put this into perspective, about 61% of cases detected here since the pandemic began have been confirmed since December 13, when just 37 cases were active at the time.

On Wednesday, 10.5% of the population was either active or in self-isolation and the Elderly Residential Services was responding to a major outbreak in which 63 residents testing positive.

There are currently eight people in the Critical Care Unit of St Bernard’s Hospital and 22 in the Covid-19 Ward.

These figures place into sharp focus the effects of the surge.

But behind the figures are people, with the latest death confirmed on Wednesday as a man aged 75 to 80 who passed away from Covid pneumonitis.

He was the eleventh resident of Gibraltar whose death was directly or indirectly linked to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic began.

Just a day earlier, the Government had confirmed two deaths, the first of a woman in her 90s where Covid-19 contributed to her death but was not the direct cause, the second a man in his early to mid 80s who had underlying health conditions and died from Covid pneumonitis.

The first death of the year was a man in his 90s who also died of Covid pneumonitis and had been hospitalised a week prior.

With each death, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has expressed condolences to the families and urged the public to do everything possible to curb the spread of the virus.

“I’m deeply saddened to confirm a further death from Covid-19," Mr Picardo said on Wednesday, as he reacted to the latest news.

"I knew the deceased well as he was a much loved and appreciated teacher.”

“Like all our other Covid losses, his is a great loss and in this instance, given his profession, a death that will be felt across the many generations who he taught and influenced so positively.”

“My sincere condolences go to his family and friends."

“Please, do your part to help us stop the spread. Stay at home. If you need urgent medical advice or if you develop symptoms, please call 111.”

Over the past fortnight, the contact tracing bureau has reported being overwhelmed at times and the Gibraltar Health Authority is strained as it copes with the number of cases.

On Wednesday, active cases reached another new high of 1,125, of which five were visitors.

Overall, 172 new Covid-19 cases were detected and 15 more identified in the Elderly Residential Services.

Including cross frontier workers, the total number of cases stands at 1,208, meaning 43% of cases since the pandemic began are currently active.

But Gibraltar also recorded recoveries on Wednesday, with 49 people now clear of the virus.

A total of 2,257 people are currently in self-isolation in Gibraltar.

Of the 165 new resident cases in Gibraltar on Wednesday, 65 were close contacts of existing active cases.

Some 128,667 have been carried out since the pandemic began, with 302 pending and 29,369 tests carried out so far in the frontline, targeted and systematic sampling.

Since the pandemic began 1,579 have recovered, 11 have died and 2,798 cases have been detected.

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