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Stark warning as virus cases continue to rise

Pic: Johnny Bugeja



The Gibraltar Government yesterday issued a stark warning after Gibraltar reached the highest number of Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 62 active cases among residents.

The Government warned that this situation could become “very serious if the situation continues to deteriorate,” and stressed the importance of protecting the vulnerable and the elderly in the community from contracting the virus.

This message to protect the elderly comes as children have returned to school, with four cases detected across four local schools yesterday.


Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 416 Covid-19 cases confirmed on the Rock, with 351 having made a full recovery.

At present there are two patients recovering from Covid-19 in the hospital, and no deaths registered from the virus.

Yesterday’s figures included one visitor who tested positive as well.

At present there are 77 test results pending, while 546 people are self-isolating after being in close contact with someone who has tested positive.


In a statement to the press, the Government said the public “must not let their guard down” in the face of continuing in the fight against Covid-19.



The Government said in order to protect the elderly and the vulnerable, it is important that everyone continues to follow the rules, including the use of face-masks, washing hands regularly, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, maintaining a social distance and avoiding large groups.



The situation in the United Kingdom has deteriorated rapidly as students return to university, the Government said.


It added: “There are now thousands of young people in lockdown and restrictions have been imposed in different parts of the country.”

“A prime factor in spreading the disease has been student gatherings and parties.”



In Gibraltar, gatherings are limited to 20 people, including gatherings in private households.



“There have been reports that such parties have been organised, or continue to be planned in Gibraltar,” the statement from the Government continued.



“The object of this restriction is to protect our parents and grandparents from Covid-19.”



“There is a very real risk that anyone who contracts Covid-19, even if young, can then pass it on to adults some of whom may be over 70 or have underlying health conditions.”



Meanwhile in Spain, the increase incidence of Covid-19 has led to additional restrictions at a local and regional level in different parts across the country.



The Government has issued travel advice for any Gibraltar resident who intends to travel to Spain, adding that they should take additional precautions and familiarises themselves with the rules during their route and at their destination.



“In Spain a considerable number of cases have been traced to family gatherings and a distinct trend developed during and after the summer of younger persons becoming infected passing it on to their elders,” the Government added.



The statement continued: “The Government cannot stress enough how important it is to avoid contact across the generations between younger and older people.”

“There are many ways of keeping in touch including telephone, video-calls and social media.”



“In the event that a face to face contact is absolutely essential, then it is better outdoors and maintaining social distance.”



“Our students are now at school and in contact with each other.”



“The spread of the virus between them is to an extent unavoidable.”



“However, the contact between schoolchildren and those who are over 70 or who have underlying health conditions can be easily avoided and for the sake of our elders it must.”

“The Government understands that this is very difficult, but equally everyone must understand that there is no excuse for not protecting our elders.”

It said Gibraltar cannot lose sight of the fact that over one million people across the globe have died after contracting Covid-19, which includes people of all ages and all health conditions.

“Indeed, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself was particularly badly affected by the disease, even though he is in his fifties and known to cycle and jog,” No. 6 Convent Place said.

“However, it is clear that those persons who are over 70 and who have a pre-existing medical condition are most at risk and it is our sacred duty to do everything we can to protect them.”

SCHOOLS

Four cases of Covid-19 were yesterday identified across four schools, including Notre Dame Lower Primary, St Anne’s Upper Primary, Bayside and Westside.



A statement from the Government of Gibraltar said the Contact Tracing team has been liaising with staff at all four schools and the Department of Education and interviews were conducted with the relevant individuals.

No pupils or staff at Notre Dame Lower Primary have had to self-isolate after the first case was identified in the school.

This is because the person who tested positive was not deemed to have been in close contact with anyone within the school setting.

They have been asked to self-isolate as they recover from the virus.

Meanwhile St Anne’s Upper Primary has seen its second case detected at the school, but according to the Government, there are no epidemiological links to the previous case.

Two members of staff and 14 pupils have been asked to self-isolate after being in close contact with the individual who tested positive.

One member of staff and six pupils in Bayside School have had to self-isolate after the first Covid-19 case was identified at the school.

Meanwhile in Westside School, this is the fourth Covid-19 case identified within the school.

The Government said there are no identified epidemiological link between this case and the three previous case, and 13 pupils have been asked to self-isolate.

“Individuals who have specific concerns arising from any of this information are asked to contact the relevant Head Teacher,” a statement from No.6 Convent Place read.

“Parents are reminded that children and young people with Covid-19 symptoms should not attend school. They should stay at home, self-isolate and call 111.”

Pupils should continue to attend school as normal if they have not been contacted by the Contact Tracing Bureau.

Close contacts and siblings of pupils who have been asked to self-isolate should attend school as normal unless otherwise advised by the Contact Tracing Bureau, the Government said.