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More Covid-19 cases detected in ERS and schools

Two residents living in Elderly Residential Services tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, bringing the total up to five active cases. Four more cases were detected in local schools.

The new cases follow the lockdown of ERS imposed by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo on Tuesday after eight cases were detected in the John Mackintosh Wing - including three patients.

Mr Picardo had announced “with a heavy heart” that family visits would no longer be allowed to visit and asked the public to heed public health advice to curb the spread.

On Thursday, a total of nine people tested positive in Gibraltar and 14 recovered.

This saw the slight reduction of cases from 129 to 124, of these cases 122 are residents and two are visitors.

Another person was admitted into the Covid-19 ward, with eight cases currently hospitalised and 820 in self-isolation.

Since the pandemic began, 60,298 tests have been carried out. Of these, 17,823 tests have been carried out in the frontline, targeted and systematic sampling.

SCHOOLS

Four new positive cases of Covid-19 have been detected within local schools with 78 pupils and staff in isolation, the Government confirmed on Thursday.

One positive case was identified in St Anne’s Upper Primary School and a further three positive cases in Bayside School.

Despite the cases of Covid-19 detected in local schools becoming an almost daily occurrence, in a recent press conference Mr Picardo caveated this figure is relatively low in comparison to the sheer number of pupils and staff attending school.

“I don’t think there are high cases in schools, if you look at the number of people there are in schools and there are four or five thousand children in schools, we have got about four or five hundred teachers in schools and about another 500 support staff in schools from LSAs to caretakers, cleaners… technicians etc,” Mr Picardo said.

“Frankly I think the numbers manifesting in the schools are quite low in the context of the school population.”

“Therefore, I think we are doing well in the work we are doing in tracing through whenever there is a case in the schools. I know it may be difficult when your son or daughter is the pupil sent home or when you are the technician, support staff or teacher sent home and you’re in self-isolation.”

“Better that we have 20 or 30 people at home and still have 5,000 people in school and at work, which means you can have the rest of the population at work. If we have to send every child back home, that more or less grinds your economy to a halt because people need to provide to their children etc.”

“I think therefore the Department of Education, the teachers, the support staff in the schools, the parents are doing an absolutely magnificent job and frankly the pupils aren’t doing bad either.”

In a press statement issued on Thursday, the Government said the Contact Tracing Bureau have been liaising with staff at both schools and the Department of Education and have conducted interviews with all relevant individuals.

As a result, all individuals who had been identified as close contacts of the positive cases had been informed that they are required to self-isolate.

Close contact is defined as close proximity within an enclosed area for a period of time longer than 15 minutes.

These are the sixth, seventh and eighth cases identified within Bayside school and there is no identified epidemiological link between these positive cases and previous cases, the Government confirmed.

51 individuals (one staff member and 50 pupils) had been deemed to have been in close contact with the sixth and seventh positive cases and were instructed to self-isolate.

A further 23 individuals (one staff member and 22 pupils) have been deemed to have been in close contact with the eighth positive case and were instructed to self-isolate.

For St Anne’s Upper Primary school this is the fourth case and there is no identified epidemiological link between this positive case and the first cases.

Four individuals within the school setting (two staff members and two pupils) have been identified as close contacts and were instructed to self-isolate.

“Individuals who have specific concerns arising from any of this information are asked to contact the relevant Head Teacher,” the Government said.

“Parents are reminded that children and young people with Covid-19 symptoms should not attend school. They should stay at home, self-isolate and call 111.”

“Pupils in the above mentioned schools should continue to attend school as normal if they have not been contacted by the Contact Tracing Bureau.”