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Outbreak sees Children Health Centre shut for decontamination

Photo by Stephen Ignacio

There has been a confirmed outbreak of Covid-19 at the Children’s Health Centre in Europort, affecting at least six members of staff.

There are six confirmed cases and one suspected case among GHA staff. Five of them have been sent home and one has been admitted to the Covid Ward at St Bernard’s Hospital.

All of them have been working at the CHC and were doing so in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms.

This, the Government said in a statement, suggests that there is likely to have been sustained transmission over a period of several weeks, during which clinics have been ongoing.

The facility was closed for a deep clean and decontamination. This is now complete and it will re-open tomorrow as usual.

Additionally, the Government said that most of the dentists have been doing telephone consultations and attended to emergency cases only.

Their clinics have been deep cleaned after every use and the dentists have worn full PPE.

Most of those working at the CHC are not providing an essential service over the next week, so in order to control the outbreak they have been asked to self-isolate.

A total of 18 have been swabbed and these will be tested in-house.

A risk-assessment today has identified the staff kitchen as the most used common area, the Government added.

Reiterating its advice, the Government said: “The advice to members of the public, including persons who attended the children’s medical or dental clinics, remains the same. In the event of showing any symptoms associated with Covid-19 they should call 111 and follow the advice given.”

The Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, confirmed the outbreak at the daily press briefing but he declined to provide further details.

He explained that further insights on the matter would be provided by the Minister for Health, Paul Balban, at tomorrow’s daily press briefing.

He did, however, warn against paying heed to rumours on social media, adding: “We will provide you all the information directly.”

This comes as the overall number of confirmed cases of the virus increased by two from 129 on Tuesday to 131 on Wednesday.

Of these 105 have fully recovered and 26 remain active and are in isolation at home.

The three confirmed cases of the virus within Elderly Residential Services are now fully recovered and calls to the 111 number have dropped.

A data visualisation prepared by the Chronicle shows the evolution of Covid-19 testing in Gibraltar over the past month, with positive tests representing just a small proportion of the sampling exercise, which includes 400 random tests as well as tests on people with symptoms.

As of April 15, a total of 1753 tests had been carried out in Gibraltar and 131 people had tested positive. Most of those who tested positive have now recovered, with just 25 cases still active.The visualisation was prepared using official data provided by the GHA.

Dr Garcia acknowledged that lifting lockdown was at the centre of the discussion - both in Gibraltar and at a global level - he again urged caution.

He said: We must not let down our guard. This war is far from over. And now is not a time to take risks.

Because that would be irresponsible. It would mean taking risks with your safety. Ultimately with your lives. And we are not prepared to do that.”

He explained that the Government will continue to take a “considered approach”, based on Public Health and medical advice.

“This means taking the right action at the right time. The timing is all important. None of us want things to get worse.”

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