LATEST figures report there are only 12 recorded active cases of the COVID-19 virus on the Rock, the lowest for nearly a month.

The drop in cases has been directly linked to the lockdown measures by the Gibraltar Government, which is likely to be extended on Monday.

There is now no-one with the disease in hospital either, with 120 people having recovered from 132 confirmed cases.

The statistics make astounding reading, making Gibraltar one of the few nations in the world to have seemingly controlled the virus.

Minister Sacramento said that while these figures were ‘good’ we should not be ‘complacent’ and go out more than we needed to.

It is clear that this already too much for some people, with one local man being arrested for trying to enter Gibraltar via Western Beach and acting against the lockdown measures.

Sacramento said that the disability information card will help people who have autism, for example, who need routine and exercise.

Blue wristbands are being arranged by the Autism Support Group so that these people can be identified clearly.

However, a petition for press conferences to have either sign language or subtitles by the Disability Society and hard of hearing charity GHITA has still not been solved.

With their rights protected by 2017 legislation, Sacramento said ‘it was not possible at the moment’ because of ‘issues with technology’.

On the issue of domestic abuse she said a poster campaign is being created to help provide more information about this form of violence.

Although the Minister for Equality said the RGP there has not been ‘a significant spike in cases’ this could be a hidden problem when families and couples are locked down together for long periods of time.

Over 50 tablets have been donated after an appeal made last week for these devices for children who did not have access to them, again demonstrating the generosity of the community.

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HARDWORKING: Ministers at today’s press conference live to all Gibraltar

Education

Today, Minister for Education and Employment Gilbert Licudi said that about 160 children are attending nursery service at four schools.

These are Notre Dame and St Anne’s for lower and upper primary schoolchildren respectively, Westside for secondary schoolchildren and St Martin’s for those with special needs.

Licudi recognised that with the rest of them at home this can cause ‘stress or anxiety’ to parents and children alike.

This is why parents have now been provided a mental health helpline of 200 12499 if they need to talk to someone about their situation.

The home learning programme for Primary and Secondary school students is continuing to provided by the Department of Education.

In response to criticism, the Minister confirmed it would be ‘impossible to match the rate of progress’ at school.

“We have an online platform that children can engage with where they will be provided with a series of activities by their teachers,” said Licudi.

“They should be able to be completed within the home environment with resources you would expect to find within that environment.

“The routine should include exercise activities as well as a mental health or mindfulness element.”

A subscription to a podcast is being set up to provide learning and revision across 27 GCSE subjects, kindly paid for by the Kusuma Trust.

If the schools reopen next school year, new programmes are being rolled out on April 20 and 27 for Year 13 and 11 students respectively.

Licudi said a ‘rigorous’ process would be carried out to establish the grades of GCSE and A-level students this year.

Government scholarships can be applied for as in previous years, although there were no guarantees that schools or universities would reopen in September.

Bayside School
SCHOOLs: Unlikely to open properly until September

If they do open it is likely to be ‘in stages’ revealed the minister for education, with the government announcing what will be done closer to the date.

“You will all have seen studies, mathematical models, projections, hypotheses and assumptions made by experts all over the world,” concluded Licudi.

“Most of those are characterized by two things – a lack of evidence and uncertainty.

“There is uncertainty as to how precisely the virus will behave, when there will be a vaccine available, the extent of the effect of antibodies or immunity that anyone who may have had the virus will have.

“There is also uncertainty about a possible surge or other waves of the virus if we unlock too early.

“We are already seeing those second waves happen in other countries such as Singapore and Japan.”

Finally, Licudi confirmed that COVID-19 might have ‘an effect on employment’, after a question from The Olive Press.

The minister for employment seemed to imply that because we have so many jobs available on the Rock, some of those could now be taken by Gibraltarians as opposed to cross-frontier workers.

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