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Rock on track for August 1 lockdown exit, even as cases rise

Gibraltar’s route out of lockdown is on track for August 1, the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said on Monday, even as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 jumped by the biggest margin since April.

In the past week, the number of confirmed cases has increased by 16 from 154 to 170. All are asymptomatic frontline workers detected through the random sampling exercise targeting essential areas.

But, Mr Picardo said, cases would need to increase by 10 to 20 per day and lead to hospital admissions before the Government would consider halting its route map out of lockdown.

Speaking in No.6 Convent Place, Mr Picardo said: “We expected to see numbers increasing as we expanded our surveillance strategy and that includes a higher swabbing rate testing of these frontline workers.”

“It would be surprising if there had been no increase in cases.”

Despite this, and as Gibraltar moved into the third phase of eased restrictions yesterday, Mr Picardo insisted: “Rock unlocked looks good for August 1 from now.”

“Public Health advice is that this is not grounds for stopping the unlocking process at this stage,” he said.

“We would need to see a sustained increase over five working days taking positive cases per day to between 10 and 20 and a large number of those resulting in admissions to the GHA before any review would be likely.”

Mr Picardo said swift public action had been taken with each of these cases in order to prevent onward transmission of the virus followed by an “extensive contact tracing effort”.

“So, what these numbers show is that our enhanced surveillance is doing its job by actively seeking out cases of Covid-19 in the community.”

“With these numbers of diagnosis of the virus and the absence of pressure at this stage in the GHA, the Cabinet is advised and has agreed that we can safely proceed to Unlock Phase 3,” he said.

Despite this, the advice remains the same.

“Let’s be clear, these cases should serve as a reminder that coronavirus is still very much amongst us, and that we all have individual responsibility when it comes to preventing the spread, through social distancing, hand hygiene, and by following public health advice,” Mr Picardo said.

“You must observe the rules or we will potentially find ourselves having to go into reverse gear for the whole of the community because a selfish few might not have followed the rules,” he urged the community.