Gibraltar to keep a ‘close eye’ on developments in Spain when easing its lockdown
Spain could have an ‘immediate impact’ on Gibraltar’s plans when easing its lockdown, the Deputy Chief Minister said as he stressed the Rock must ‘starve the virus of victims’.
Areas in Spain, such as the province of Cadiz will be easing its lockdown, with bars, restaurants and places of worship set to open as from Monday, and Dr Garcia said he is “keeping a close eye” on the situation.
“The situation next door can have an immediate impact on what happens here,” Dr Garcia said on Saturday during the daily press conference he chaired with Commander British Forces Commodore Tim Henry.
“So we will continue to keep a close eye going forward.”
He added Gibraltar will also be impacted on decisions made in the UK and any plans to ease a lockdown should encompass these surrounding factors.
“It doesn’t hold that Gibraltar can behave as if it was an island,” Dr Garcia said.
“We are not an island, we are connected by air to the UK and by land to Spain.”
“What happens in those countries will have a bearing on what we do here.”
With shops and hairdressing salons reopening in Gibraltar this week, there has been a 27% increase in cross-frontier workers.
Despite numbers continuing to be low, the increase comes as Gibraltar is poised to strengthen its Covid-19 contact tracing with the establishment of a new bureau.
The number of people crossing into Gibraltar continues to be very low, in particular, in comparison to the same period last year when over 250,000 people crossed into Gibraltar, Dr Garcia added.
The figures showed that 3901 persons crossed into Gibraltar on Monday, the first full working day where shops and self-contained constructed sites were allowed to reopen.
“The pandemic continues its slow retreat in Andalucia and in Cadiz which is the province next door,” Dr Garcia said.
“The Campo has reported a total of 278 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic begun and a total of 32 deaths.”
Dr Garcia was clear that the “only” way Gibraltar can “kill the virus by stopping its spread,” and outlined how the Gibraltar Government will hone in on individual cases in a bid to curb a spread.
The new established Contact Tracing Bureau will quiz those found positive of Covid-19 to pinpoint people they would have likely spread virus to.
Administrative staff Nightingale Field Hospital have been redeployed to the Contact Tracing Team, and 30 staff have been trained.
Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia added a new Public Health Covid-19 screening facility is being set up at the University of Gibraltar.
“This is part of a strategy to deliver hundreds of screening tests a day, with a lab turnaround of four hours or less,” he said.
Dr Garcia added the Gibraltar Government and the Gibraltar Health Authority have been in touch with two developers of contact tracing apps.
The first app produced by NHSX is currently being tested in the Isle of Wight and will store data centrally.
“A fact which has raised privacy concerns,” Dr Garcia said.
The second app is being developed by Apple and the data would be stored in each individuals phone.
“Your phone will alert you if you have been in contact with someone who reports symptoms of Covid-19,” Dr Garcia said.
“Those who have been in close contact will then be expected to self-isolate.”
“The duration of this self-isolation depends on the outcome of the test.”
The contact tracing measures comes as cases continue to dip in Gibraltar, with some three active cases.
But Dr Garcia underscored that Gibraltarians should continue to adhere to the lockdown rules.
“We still cannot let down our guard,” Dr Garcia said.
“Other countries have also won the first round. Singapore dealt with it very effectively.”
“But now they have highest number of cases in South East Asia.”
“Places like Iceland, South Korea and Japan managed to control the first wave of the virus.”
“They are now bracing themselves for a possible second.”
“This is why we are being cautious.”
“Your safety, your security and your protection is both our legal and our moral duty.”