14 Mar, 2020 @ 17:16
1 min read

CORONAVIRUS: Now is the time to take action, says Gibraltar minister

John Cortes

STOPPING the virus before its spreads is better than waiting until it is too late, the Minister for Public Health told the Olive Press.

In a private interview John Cortes confirmed that the UK is willing to send medical help if it was needed.

The message followed a number of restrictions on transport, business and a warning many people could get Coronavirus COVID-19.

“This is the time to take measures against the virus,” revealed Cortes, Public Health Minister.

“If we wait until we have many cases before we take measures then we would be wasting our time.

“The measures have to be taken in advance in order to delay the onset of the pandemic.

“The fact is that if we are successful and we delay it, we are going to be criticised and asked, why we took this action in the first place.

“But if we didn’t do it, then perhaps we wouldn’t have delayed it and we wouldn’t have known so this was the right time.”

He admitted that ‘businesses might suffer’ from the restrictions placed on people leaving their homes and the 8pm curfew on bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

“This is a an emergency situation,” Cortes recalled. “Therefore that and I’m glad to say that the Chamber of Commerce, GFSB and all the businesses have been very understanding and very supportive.

He reiterated that ‘the Chief Minister will be announcing measures on Monday’ to help those businesses affected by the restrictions.

Olive branch

The minister praised the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) for diverting resources to handle a big wave of Coronavirus victims.

“ At this moment, the GHA has 87 beds available and we are taking more measures to increase that number,” he revealed.

“In terms of personnel we have called for cultural retired doctors and nurses to come forward and make themselves available.

“We have also increased the Intensive Care Unit capacity by 500%.”

169 3 2020
TOP BRASS: Gibraltar leaders met with UK PM Boris Johnson this week

“The Chief Minister asked the Prime Minister whether it was a possibility to bring more personnel from the UK,” he confirmed.

“He has confirmed that they will do everything they can to send support if we request it in detail.”

Cortes said that there has been a lot of work behind the scenes to find out the best way to tackle the Coronavirus.

“It hasn’t been hard at all because everybody has been cooperating.” said the minister for public health.

“We are regularly in contact by email on instant messages, as well as by personal conversation in regular meetings.

“The difficult part is keeping up to date with everything that’s happening around the world, but I think we’ve done that successfully.”

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