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‘Stay home, stay alive,' Dr Garcia urges community

'Stay home, stay alive,' was the message from Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia yesterday, as the Royal Gibraltar Police flagged how people continue to be out and about despite lockdown measures restricting movement to the bare essentials. 

This comes as a further nine cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the last 24 hours taking the total number of cases in Gibraltar to 35. 

Of these some 13 have fully recovered and 22 are active but doing “fine” in self-isolation at home. 

Reiterating the pubic health advice that citizens over the age of 70 do not go out at all, Dr Garcia said a telephone audit service had contacted thousands of people in this age group to establish how they are and what they need. 

“On average some 800 calls a day are being made,” he said adding that the call centre had been moved from Convent Place to Bayside school which has now become the focal point for all non-medical Covid-19 matters. 

This service is manned 24 hours a day seven days a week with the help of volunteers. 

“We are trying to make things easier but we know that this kind of life is difficult,” Dr Garcia said of lockdown measures. 

The Minister for Civil Contingencies, Samantha Sacramento, reiterated that the objective behind these measures was to flatten the curve and keep cases at a manageable level so as not to overwhelm the health system. 

“This is how we save lives,” she said adding: “Our frail elderly are most at risk so the best thing that we can do for them is to stay indoors and ensure that they stay indoors.” 

“There are some people who have not yet appreciated how contagious this virus is and how serious the situation can get if we do not follow the guidance.” 

“If people do not follow our advice and the measures that have been put in place then the positive cases that we have will just shoot up,” she said. 

“We are seeing a curve when we look at other countries but because of our density our curve will look more like a spike and that is why our Government has taken the measures that we have taken.” 

“If you analyse the measures we have taken we’ve taken them well ahead of other countries.” 

“We have not waited to have hundreds of deaths before we put these measures in place. We have put them in place before we have had any and the reason such drastic steps have been taken is to save lives,” Ms Sacramento said. 

“People need to understand how serious this virus is and the risk that it poses to all of us.” 

But, she said, the Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail had reported to her that there are still many people out and about. 

Ms Sacramento said that as days pass under lockdown people may forget the importance of complying with the regulations. 

“I really need to communicate this message; I know that it’s difficult to stay home, I know that culturally we like to go out and in Gibraltar we have nice weather but I really would urge that people stay indoors for their own safety.” 

Detailing some of the logistical operations that have been mounted in response to the Covid-19 emergency, she explained that the Government had stepped up the clinical input at Mount Alvernia. 

This was to ensure that should anyone fall ill - for any reason, not necessarily Covid-19 related - there would be no need for them to be taken out of that facility. 

Additionally, she said, “very good progress” has been made on the field hospital at the Europa Point sports facilities. 

Highlighting the domestic pressures lockdown measures may be having on individuals and families, Ms Sacramento said her department had put together a team to look at mental health and welfare issues and draw up plans to address this initially with an emphasis on frontline workers before extending the plans further. 

Multi-agency plans have also been put in place to mitigate any potential spikes in instances of domestic abuse or neglect of children.