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New random testing will focus on frontline personnel, Sacramento says

The Gibraltar Health Authority will carry out random testing of up to 450 frontline workers to establish the potential spread of Covid-19 among key personnel.

The size of the sample and its focus was revealed by Samantha Sacramento, the Minister for Civil Contingencies, during the 4pm daily press conference at No.6 Convent Place.

The development came as the Gibraltar Government confirmed there were just 12 active cases of Covid-19 in Gibraltar at present, all of whom were receiving well at home.

Of the 132 confirmed cases to date, 120 are recovered.

Ms Sacramento said that while the statistics were encouraging, there was no room for complacency, reminding people of the importance of strict adherence to public health guidance and the lockdown rules.

The government has already conducted one round of random testing on people selected from the electoral register.

Ms Sacramento said the second round would focus “primarily” on frontline personnel including healthcare workers, police officers and those who work in the Elderly Care Services.

She did not explain the reason for focusing the tests on this group but the decision comes after a number of healthcare workers tested positive with the virus, and the detection of three cases in ERS facilities over the past week.

“We are going to undertake a different random sampling exercise now and that will be primarily targeted at people who are frontline workers, so that we can see how prevalent the instance of the virus can be among these,” she said.

She later added: “We’re aiming to have about 450."

Earlier this week, the government said the results of the first random tests suggested that up to 800 people may have been infected with Covid-19 during the testing period, many of them without symptoms at the time.

The analysis was extracted from initial data following conclusion of the sample.

Of the 400 random swabs taken, only 10 results were returned positive.

Extrapolated to the community as a whole, that would indicate up to 800 people infected, or , or 2.5% of the population, officials said.

Ms Sacramento said the results of the second random test would add to officials’ understanding of the virus and its spread through Gibraltar.

She said the new in-house testing laboratory now allowed for a much faster turnaround in results.