AUTHORITIES believe as many as a third of the 220 people awaiting test results could have contracted Coronavirus.

That could bring the total number of infected people to well over a hundred, a large amount considering that only 32,000 people live on the Rock.

A total of 460 people have been tested so far in Gibraltar with 56 confirmed cases as of March 28.

People who have recovered from the virus after the recovery period has risen to 34, taking the total number of active cases to 35.

As a result, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo declared ‘a major incident’ based on the severity of the Coronavirus Covid-19 on other countries around the world.

The major incident allows the Civil Contingencies Act to give additional powers to authorities to do what is necessary to keep people safe.

Minister for Public Health, John Cortes, explained that there was a backlog of test results which is why the increases were reported in such big jumps.

“There is a lot of pressure in the laboratories where the tests are carried out, so they come back in batches,” he explained.

“So far data are few and conclusions, could be misleading so once we have more data, we will be able to provide these analyses.

“The Director of Public Health has a team of scientists analysing the statistics and looking at predicting what might happen in coming weeks in Gibraltar.”

Currently, the GHA sends their tests to a laboratory in Spain as they don’t yet have a testing laboratory in the territory, but this is thought to change in the coming days.

“Around 30% of those tests have been positive, so it is likely that we could have at least 50 positives in the results that are pending,” Cortes added.

“However, the recovered cases should start going up as the ten days pass without symptoms.

“The equipment for testing is now all in Gibraltar, the training has proceeded, and I am told that by the end of this week, we will be able to do testing here in a laboratory.

“That will obviously solve the problem of the time lag.”

Following questions from the Olive Press, Cortes assured people that there was ‘no link’ between panic-buying at Eroski and Morrisons and the risk of coronavirus cases rising in these densely populated areas.

Morrisons Queues
PANIC: Queues at Morisson’s in Gibraltar have caused social exclusion issues
MEDICAL

The field hospital at Europa is now being equipped and will be ready to take on patients if the need arises ‘within days’

There is one suspected case of Covid-19 at St Bernard’s Hospital, ten ‘suspected’ cases and 93 free beds.

The Minister warned against the usage of commercial self-testing kits as they are ‘not considered reliable.’

“They have not been calibrated, nor confirmed to be reliable and therefore they can be dangerous,” he revealed.

Instead, he said people with symptoms should call 111 and wait to be called back for testing at the drive-thru facility.

ELDERLY REASSURANCE

Care Manager Susan Vallejo from the Elderly Residential Services spoke to reassure families that everything was okay at present at the residential homes.

This comes after news yesterday that two ERS workers tested positive for Covid-19, which is most dangerous for people who are vulnerable and elderly at Mount Alvernia.

“We are doing our upmost to prevent the Covid-19 from getting into all the ERS residential services and facilities.”

“I can assure you we are screening and monitoring all our staff, that includes everybody from domestics to the last laborer coming in,” said Vallejo.

“I can assure you that everyone is clean, including myself and our doctors.”

EDUCATION

A new programme of online education will be coming to Bayside and Westside students from Monday March 30.

Structured learning for all secondary school students will give them ‘enables children to continue to develop key skills’, said the government.

“The activities delivered through the programme are designed to work within a home learning environment and are not aimed at replicating the classroom environment,” said the Department of Education.

“Students in Years 7, 8, 9 will receive a broad and balanced programme of activities over the course of each week.

“There will be a number of tasks to complete each day and the students will receive a suggested schedule as a guideline.

Students in Years 10 and 12 will be tasked to complete a range of activities each week.

“These tasks will be pertinent to the courses they are completing and benefit their future learning in their chosen subjects.”

Further support is being given to Year 11 and 13 students who had been studying for their GCSE and A-level examinations.

Home Learning 2
LEARN: Children can now continue getting essential skills from home

“During times of trauma, feelings of a lack of control can lead to anxiety and hopelessness,” explained the Government.

“Through the use of positive psychology principles, children will be encouraged to spend time on positive experiences and get a sense of satisfaction.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

Many people on social media have been aware that construction work has been done at the Gibraltar Cemetery while the lock-down has been on-going.

“The works are to build resting places in the Spanish cemetery style, known as nichos to be able to cope with a potential number of deaths that may be happening in the coming weeks.”

Cortes hoped that Gibraltar will not need the 200 spaces being constructed anytime soon and urged everyone to take on board the public health advice to prevent this.

The Minister for Public Health was quick to address the statistics and graphs floating around social media regarding information from the Government.

“Some are very helpful and accurate, others less so,” said Cortes.

“So far data is few, and conclusions could be misleading.

“Once we have more data, we will be able to provide these analyses officially.

“Remember that Gibraltar is different from other jurisdictions.”

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