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Tests on deceased 57-year old man come back negative for Covid-19

A 57-year old man who died on Thursday after experiencing Covid-19 symptoms did not have the virus, swab results have confirmed.

The information was revealed at the 4pm daily press conference as the Gibraltar Government and the Gibraltar Health Authority again warned the public against complacency in adhering to lockdown measures. 

The man, who had a history of chronic illness and suffered cardiac arrest last Thursday, had experienced symptoms consistent with the virus in the lead up to his death.

His death had been initially treated as Gibraltar’s first possible virus fatality but results of swabs taken post mortem came back negative.

“This means that this individual was not suffering from Covid-19 and did not pass away as a result of this,” Minister for Education, Gilbert Licudi, said yesterday. 

“A death is a death and our thoughts continue to be with his family.” 

“However, the fact that we now know that Gibraltar has still not had its first Covid-19 death is not something that causes us or must cause us to be drawn to any kind of complacency, the contrary is the case.”

“This is not a joke,” Mr Licudi added, as underscored the importance of continuing to adhere to the “extensive” measures put in place to reduce the risk of infection and to therefore save lives. 

In a separate development, tests carried out on all the patients at the Hillside Dementia and Alzheimers facility also returned negative, as did tests carried out on staff at the facility.

These swabs were taken after three patients at the facility tested positive for the virus. All three are currently in isolation. 

The number of confirmed cases of the virus in Gibraltar is slowly creeping up to the 100 mark. A total of 98 people have tested positive for Covid-19, of which 46 are currently active and 52 have fully recovered.

Additionally, around 4% of the population has been tested for the disease including 300 as part of the GHA’s random testing initiative. 

“Apart from the normal testing of persons with Covid-19 symptoms we are conducting random testing on 400 people – that is over one per cent of the population,” Mr Licudi said. 

“An equivalent random test in Spain would involve half a million people and in the UK around 700,000 people.”

“This comparison serves to illustrate that this is a scientifically significant sample,” he added. 

Asked about the potential for false negative results from the swab examinations, acting Medical Director Dr Krishna Rawal explained that there is only a short window to test for the virus and the current testing will provide no indication as to whether someone has already had Covid-19.

“There are many people, I’m sure, who feel that they’ve already had the infection because they’ve suffered with some form of illness during the past few months which actually fits that picture very well,” he said. 

“When you swab test somebody, it’s just that window and that point, it doesn’t give you an indication as to whether you’ve had the infection in the past or whether you’re going to get it in the future it’s whether you have the infection at that point.” 

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