ELDERLY and chronically ill people in Gibraltar have been told to not kiss or hug each other to stop the COVID-19 virus spreading.

The stark warnings from the Gibraltar government are threatening to alter the very way of life in the territory.

The discovery of the first case on the Rock has prompted Italy to be placed on the high risk list too.

Around 4,000 cases of the virus have been reported with 200 deaths, prompting whole towns to be placed under lockdown.

Visits and even stopovers to the country as well as other Far Eastern countries and Iran are not recommended .

The biggest raft of warnings have referred to people suffering from a weak immune system in Gibraltar.

These include people who have cancer or on a special medication, people over 70-years-old and those with long-term decisions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic lung disease.

The Public Health department recommends people with these conditions follow the following tips for self-protection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel. Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.
  • Keep your surfaces at home clean. Wipe them down using detergents regularly

These further recommendations might change the way these people live their everyday life:

  • DON’T touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • DON’T smoke and make sure you avoid secondhand smoke. This will greatly improve your lung health. If you are a current smoker, consider quitting or switching to vaping, which contains fewer poisonous ingredients.
  • DON’T give kisses or hugs or shake anybody’s hand. It is especially important that you avoid direct contact with children. Ask your relatives and friends not to visit you for the time being, and to phone or have video calls via WhatsApp, Facebook or FaceTime to keep in touch.
  • DON’T go to large public gatherings.
  • DON’T attend the Primary Care Centre or hospital in person. If you need medical support or advice, please call 20052441 or 20072355.
  • AVOID public transport.

The government wanted to point out that these tips were ‘based on the advice given by public health professionals’.

“Their sole objective is to protect the best interests of the most vulnerable members of our community in the face of COVID-19,” said the Government of Gibraltar.

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At risk countries

Additionally, anyone going to any of the countries below should report to the authorities on their return:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Vietnam

If you have already returned to Gibraltar from any of the at-risk countries in the last 14 days, even if you do not have coronavirus symptoms, you should immediately:

  • Call 111 to declare your recent travel
  • Self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days from the date of your departure

“For almost 90% of people, the symptoms will be very mild and most people who contract the virus will be able to recover well and quickly at home,” said the Gibraltar Government. “Around 99% of people will likely fully recover.

“The focus now is to increase the distance between people in order to try to slow the spread as much as possible, and to take extra care with older and vulnerable friends and relatives.

“Think twice before you pay them a visit and strongly consider whether you could phone or video call them instead.”

The warnings came as Spain reported its fifth death from the novel Coronavirus strain which is mutating everyday.

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