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Most Covid-19 cases in hospital are 'incidental findings'

St Bernard's Hospital. Photo by Eyleen Gomez

The majority of recent positive cases in the Covid-19 Ward at St Bernard's Hospital have been incidental findings, the Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Carter, has said.

Patients presenting at St Bernard's Hospital for illnesses and injuries unrelated to Covid-19, and then testing positive upon arrival, are being transferred to the Covid-19 Ward despite being asymptomatic.

Dr Carter explained this reduces any possible spread within the rest of the hospital but does not truly reflect the number of Covid positive patients needing acute treatment as the majority of patients admitted in the Covid-19 Ward are also receiving treatment for unrelated illnesses and injuries.

Dr Carter pointed to the vaccine as the reason for such low hospitalisations.

"Some of those people who have been admitted, they have been admitted because they have had a fall, they have had complications in the community relating to their medication, it's not actually related to Covid. It’s an incidental finding," she said.

Taking the relatively low number of hospitalisations and these incidental findings, her advice to Government ministers has been to "hold steady.”

"Over the last month the majority have been an incidental finding rather than directly attributable to Covid," Dr Carter said.

She added there have been recent admissions of those who are unvaccinated, and in the UK they are seeing younger unvaccinated admissions more regularly.

Recently Gibraltar had surpassed the number of daily new cases, in comparison to last year.

The figure of rising new cases, although staggering, is eased by the lack of hospitalisations.

Dr Carter recognised the number of infections is almost parallel to last year, but the booster vaccine is proving to be having an effect.

"The key difference [to last year] is, yes we have a new variant that is more infectious but in the main is causing less severe disease, and we know that the booster brings protection back up to about under 90% in terms of preventing hospitalisations," Dr Carter said.

"So that's why we are in quite a different position in terms of my Public Health advice."

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