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Staff at Europa Retreat Centre thanked for Covid work

Over the past year, the Europa Retreat Centre has looked after 20 people who tested positive for Covid-19, as well as 15 people with social or housing needs or other difficulties caused by the pandemic.

In addition, 20 members of ship crews stayed at the Europa Retreat Centre while they were stranded in Gibraltar without accommodation.

The staff at the centre were the first in Gibraltar to look after Covid-19 positive cases when crew members tested positive, a spokesman for No.6 Convent Place said as Minister for Civil Contingencies, Samantha Sacramento, paid a visit to thank them for their work during the pandemic.

The Europa Retreat Centre was commissioned as an Isolation Facility under the care of Retreat Centre Manager, John Rodriguez.

“Following initial developments in Wuhan back in January 2020, the Office of Civil Contingencies approached Mr Rodriguez to jointly develop plans and make preparations to designate the Europa Retreat Centre an Isolation Facility,” the Government spokesman said.

“Weeks later and as cases in Europe began to increase exponentially, the Retreat Centre was formally placed under the direction of the Office of Civil Contingencies and activated for Covid-19 positive and suspected cases.”

“The aim was to safely accommodate and isolate Covid-confirmed and suspected cases as well as those travelling from high risk countries who could not be allowed to stay in hotels, visiting ships or at home because of public health reasons.”

All safety measures, training and available Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were issued to the staff as a priority to deal with these initial infections with none of the staff ever contracting the virus throughout the pandemic period.

Mr Rodriguez said: “It has been a challenging task, especially at the beginning when not much was known about the infectivity of the virus and there was still no way to quickly test whether someone had contracted the disease.”

“That said, it has been highly rewarding to be part of the wider response to Covid-19 by fulfilling a vital role in ultimately keeping the remainder of Gibraltar safe by isolating those most at risk.”

“We have tried to make their stay here as comfortable as possible during what must have been a traumatic experience for those affected.”

“We have worked hand in glove with the Office of Civil Contingencies throughout all this time ensuring that equipment and other resources were readily available.”

“I must also thank Gibtelecom who urgently installed a WIFI network for the benefit of all residents and this has been particularly appreciated by those who have been caught by the pandemic many miles away from their home.’’

“The Europa Retreat Centre was instrumental in offering support to the Gibraltar Health Authority and the community by offering a secure environment and thereby ensuring that beds at St Bernard’s Hospital were not being committed unnecessarily with the priority being given to the most seriously ill patients,” Ms Sacramento said.

“I would like to publicly express my gratitude to the staff of the Retreat Centre for their exceptional and brave work during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“My special thanks to John Rodriguez the Centre’s manager, security guards Ahmed and Yasin as well as Maria Jesus and Jorge from the domestic staff.”

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