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‘Now’s the time to quit,’ Dr Rawal tell smokers

Smokers face an increased risk of harm from the Covid-19 pandemic, Acting Medical Director Dr Krishna Rawal said yesterday, as he urged smokers to take this opportunity to quit.

Citing “strong” evidence emerging from China and Italy, Dr Rawal said: “The Covid virus affects the lungs, smoking affects the immunity and the resilience of the lungs and the evidence is showing that there’s an increased risk of harm from Covid virus to smokers.”

“Please, please consider this as a good opportunity to quit.”

“Even if the evidence about smoking is not strong, the evidence for good health to fight this virus is clearly there and is almost logical and common sense.”

“It’s good for your immune system to give up smoking to fight the virus,” he added.

This comes against the backdrop of steadily increasing confirmed cases of the virus in Gibraltar prompt-ing, on Friday, the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo to declare a major incident.

Gibraltar’s confirmed cases of the virus rose by four between Sunday and Monday to 69.

But, simultaneously, St Bernard’s currently has 98 beds free.

“That’s very close to the 100 mark and is a mark that we have never achieved in the GHA before,” Dr Rawal said, adding that the Europa Nightingale field hospital was now ready.

The field hospital has 190 beds but capacity can be ramped up to around 300 beds if needed.

Additionally, two patients who had to be admitted to the Covid critical care unit have now been dis-charged - one entirely and the other to a lower nursing capability ward with the expectation of being discharged soon.

Highlighting further positive news, Mr Picardo reflected on the case of an 89-year old woman who has completely recovered from the disease.

“This 89-year old woman is a beacon of hope, but a hope we can aspire to replicate only if each of us comply with the rules on lockdown,” he said.

“We have been able to give this patient and other patients all the care they need to recover because the GHA is not overwhelmed.”

“We need to keep it that way by ensuring that we keep the curve of infections down. Please help us to continue to do that however hard it may be by keeping to the social lockdown rules.”

“And really is it that hard?” Mr Picardo asked.

“Let’s not be 21st century snowflakes.”

“The ‘evacuation generation’ went through war, the ‘referendum generation’ went through General Franco, the ‘closed frontier’ generation went through a siege, all we have to go through is our Netflix collections or indeed our very full pantries and kitchen cupboards.”

He urged the community to therefore not pretend that lockdown is harder than it is, and “just keep go-ing”.

Both men again underscored the importance of adhering to the lockdown rules and staying at home un-less for essential reasons, although Mr Picardo said there were no plans at present to strengthen police powers, for example, by allowing officers to issue on-the-spot fines.

They also stressed the importance of following public health and medical advice and avoiding social media speculation, particularly in respect of self-medication with drugs that were potentially dangerous unless taken under close medical supervision.

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