There are now eight active cases of Coronavirus on the Rock, with two others already recovered.

All these active cases are in isolation in recovery, receiving the medical care they need.

A total of 124 people have been tested as of today with 24 results still to be confirmed.

The number of cases could go up as soon as swabs start being taken at the drive-through facility at the former Rooke site by the Mid-Town project tomorrow Friday.

With all testing equipment already on the Rock, the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) will be able to issue test results within a day of samples being taken.

Gibraltar has organised itself very quickly to fight Covid-19 under the main Covid-19 Coordinating Committee (CCC).

Thirteen different groups each with 33 sub-groups, helped by a team of 800 volunteers, will be keeping Gibraltar safe while the pandemic lasts.

Early detection has helped target the most urgent cases and give them the help they need to recover, ensuring that no-one is in current danger of death.

Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia spoke of the UK’s ‘unwavering determination to support the Overseas Territories at this difficult time’ after a conversation with UK ministers today.

“The plan is to prepare and not to panic in these exceptional times,” he said.

“The message from your government is to follow the advice from public health professionals.

“Everything that can be done is being done.”

The impact of air travel companies has led to British Airways saying it might go out of business.

Today, three of the four flights to Gibraltar were cancelled because of ‘lack of demand’, according to Garcia.

Most government workers are now working remotely, with secure systems being set up to help them work without any problems.

Rather than lowering the amount of information, it has gone up, he said, as ministers and officials tried to answer all questions.

The Europa Sports Hall will become a field hospital from next week with 192 beds while the retreat centre has 30 beds.

Schools

One of the biggest surprises in the crisis so far is that today only 27% of students attended school, down from yesterday’s 35%.

This continuous drop could have been caused by the cancellation of GCSE and A-level exams this May and June announced yesterday by the UK.

With this in mind, the government has started a questionnaire on what parents want the department of education to do with the schools.

For the moment it seems the schools will become child caring facilities to help working parents from 7.30am to 8.30 at night.

Westside School
WESTSIDE: One of the schools to be kept open in the new plans

“We will no longer be providing the normal educational curriculum in line with the UK,” said Minister for Education Gilbert Licudi.

“How many school buildings and facilities remain open will be determined by the numbers that we require to cater for.

“This morning we sent out a questionnaire to all schools, the school heads and to all parents to indicate to us whether as from Monday, they intend to send a child to school or not.

“Unless we have changed the scenario and have advised otherwise, parents should continue to send their children to the school where they currently go.”

Notre Dame, St Anne’s and Westside are the three schools that could be used in the revised plan, with St Joseph’s on standby if there is demand in the south district.

All these schools are newly built with cooking facilities that will be be able to keep the children entertained all day long.

Teachers will work on morning or evening shifts to cover the time they could have been in contact with grandparents.

Minister Licudi said that these plans could change depending on health advice and public points of view, which it is discussing with the NASUWT teachers union.

Green cards

One of the main problems with the frontier that arose yesterday was that national police officers were asking for green cards with State of Emergency declared in Spain.

Gib Frontier 2
FRONTIER: Green cards have been asked of cross-frontier workers

“We will be raising the issue with the Spanish authorities,” said Garcia.

Non-Spanish frontier workers told the Olive Press they were being asked for a Green Card from March 20, which would allow them to leave their homes to cross the frontier during the nationwide lockdown.

“From what I understand, people that live in Spain require a copy of the employment contract translated in Spanish, the S1 form that everyone should have, because they are registered here with the GHA and a copy of the passport,” Ivor Lopez of the CCC.

“My understanding is that if they go to the police station in La Linea with those documents, they then get the card and they should not have any problems in coming through through the border.”

There are already contingency plans to house essential staff at alternative accommodation if that is needed, inherited from EU no-deal planning.

Hotels have offered rooms at a reduced rate, which could be taken up by workers needing isolation from family members with Coronavirus.

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