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Secondary school pupils ‘strongly encouraged’ to wear masks for return to classroom

Long queues at the Midtown testing centre after Christmas. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Pupils in secondary schools have been “strongly encouraged” to wear face masks while in school.

As cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19 continue to rise on the Rock, the Gibraltar Government urged pupils to wear mask s including when in classrooms, corridors and common areas.

The announcement from the Department of Education was made on Wednesday ahead of schools opening after the Christmas holidays.

It came as Gibraltar recorded 168 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday alone, bring the total number of active cases on the Rock to 890.

“While Omicron infection continues to appear to be milder, and its effect on children is also mild, mask wearing is recommended in order to decrease the risk of transmission and subsequent spread to more vulnerable, including older, relatives,” a statement from the Gibraltar Government said.

“Secondary school children are more likely than primary school children to mix socially and become vectors for transmission to others, and so this recommendation is not being made in respect of the latter.”

“This may be reviewed in the future, always considering that this may be more difficult to manage in younger children.”

The advice in Gibraltar came days after the UK Government said secondary school pupils in England should wear face masks in lessons due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

Secondary school and college students in England are also being encouraged to test on site before returning to class.

Some could end up wearing coats in lessons in the weeks ahead as heads and academy leaders increase ventilation to help keep classrooms safe.

In Gibraltar, Covid cases continued to increase though hospitalisation remained low.

On Wednesday some 122 Gibraltar residents and five visitors tested positive for Covid-19 on the Rock, with a remaining 41 cases being cross-frontier workers.

There are at present 858 residents and 32 visitors infected with coronavirus on the Rock, with a further 280 test results pending.

There are currently three patients in St Bernard’s Hospital’s Covid ward and one in ERS, in Mount Alvernia, with Covid-19.

Some 43 people made a full recovery over the past 24 hours, while there are a total of 1,141 people self-isolating.

Government statistics revealed 43 residents and four visitors were found to have the more transmissible Omicron variant, with another eight residents being infected with the Delta variant.

There are still 807 test results from residents and 28 tests from visitors that have not yet been processed for genome sequencing.

Across the border in the Campo, Covid-19 numbers continue to rise with a further 231 cases recorded over the past 24 hours, with 5,889 active cases on Wednesday.

The current rate of infection in the Campo is at 1,536 per 100,000 residents in the west side, including Algeciras, and on the east side including La Linea it remains at 1,499.5 per 100,000 residents.

Algeciras recorded 79 new cases, La Linea 66, San Roque had 35 more cases and in Los Barrios another 30 individuals tested positive.


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