25 Feb, 2020 @ 22:31
2 mins read

Coronavirus in Gibraltar: ‘Legal duty’ to report danger zone visits

Outbreak Coronavirus

TRAVELLERS from coronavirus rife areas will have a ‘legal duty’ to report to the Gibraltar health authorities.

This is one of a raft of new measures introduced to tackle coronavirus in Gibraltar where the threat level is still ‘low’.

Self-isolation was introduced recently but so far no-one has tested positive for the disease which has rocked China.

The government has revealed it is checking people coming to the Rock for having been in the hardest hit countries, mainly in the Far East.

Cases of the highly contagious virus are now reaching 80,000 in China with nearly 3,000 deaths so far.

Despite this human loss, the World Health Organisation has refused to call coronavirus a global pandemic.

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Lessons learnt

The Government set up the Coronavirus Co-ordinating Group to ramp up its response to the global crisis with the Gibraltar Health Authority.

“These active measures include the publication of regulations imposing a legal duty for travellers arriving in Gibraltar within two weeks of travel to an at-risk country to report to authorities on arrival,” said the Gibraltar Government.

“Travellers currently in at-risk regions are asked to contact Gibraltar authorities as soon as possible by emailing [email protected] with the subject line: self-isolation.

“They will be contacted by a Public Health professional who will advise on the best way to protect themselves and others.”

The Civil Contingency Council is looking at the best ways to stop the spread of the virus if a case is confirmed.

It has learned from the UK, lessons which have been put into action within a simulation.

“The ‘table-top’ exercise included a patient transfer to St Bernard’s Hospital, and this will be practised again this week,” said the Coronavirus Group.

“Repeat practices ensure that all staff are thoroughly prepared and the procedure is streamlined, and ready in case it is ever needed.”

One of the main ways to fight against the renamed disease COVID-19 is encouraging people to wash their hands.

The GHA believe this is still ‘the best possible way’ to stay safe from viruses like coronavirus.

A public services information campaign and frontline staff training for GHA staff have been arranged by the Director of Public Health.

“The global spread of COVID-19 is being constantly monitored and is under continuous review,” said the GHA,

“The risk to Gibraltar currently remains low.”

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Minister for Public Health, John Cortes, said: “The public should rest assured that all that can be done to prepare for any potential coronavirus cases in Gibraltar, is being done.

“In the meantime, it is always good practice to keep good hand hygiene and use tissues to catch coughs and sneezes, and throw them away as soon as possible.

“Anyone travelling outside of Gibraltar is asked to pay close attention to the changing situation worldwide, and contact Gibraltar authorities as soon as possible if you are in an at-risk area.

“All travellers returning from an at-risk country within two weeks of arriving back in Gibraltar have a legal duty to report.”

For his part, Paul Balban, Minister for Health and Care, said: ‘I am extremely proud of the GHA for their work in preparedness and planning, and I am happy with the progress to date.

“I am confident that Gibraltar is in a good position and we are ready for any potential cases if they occur.

“I strongly encourage the public to follow the advice of public health professionals.

“It is up to all of us to do everything that we can to protect ourselves and others by keeping our hands clean and fulfilling our duty to report any travel to at-risk areas.”

The Government has set up a website with all up to date information for concerned citizens.

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