22 Apr, 2020 @ 19:35
2 mins read

Active COVID-19 cases drop to five as Gibraltar elderly await golden hour


THE number of active COVID-19 cases has gone down to just five as the elderly prepare to get their daily hour of exercise.

There are no cases of the infection in hospital with everyone recovering at home, reported the authorities today.

The golden hour will be the first relaxation of the elderly quarantine for more than a month and the government is slowly releasing more facts before it starts.

“We are considering having an hour in the morning for people who are over 70-years-old to exercise safely,” said Minister for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento.

“The aim here is to provide them with a little bit of fresh air and a little bit of vitamin D.”

Rather than allow people to go out without any rules, special arrangements are being carried out to make this ‘golden hour’ safer.

“What we are looking at is providing designated areas and asking people during this hour to go to an area that is closest to them,” revealed Sacramento.

“During this hour, with the help of the Royal Gibraltar Police and other officials, we will make these spaces safe and keep them free from people who are under the age of 70.

“We will also make arrangements for these areas to be kept clean, sanitised and disinfected.


The minister said she did not recommend the elderly wear gloves or masks but instead use hand sanitiser to wash their hands.

“Some people may argue that wearing gloves is actually more dangerous, because that can also spread the virus,” she said.

“Wearing a mask for more than 15 minutes renders the mask not useful because of the moisture that the mask traps.

“The advice is that social distancing instead of masks and washing your hands instead of gloves, is the message that we get.”

The minister clarified that this was not something that was compulsory and ‘certainly not every day’, as staying home is still the safest option.

“If you arrive at a place, and you see that the place is full, then we will ask you to move on, or to go back home,” she added.

Medically, a new isolation ward is being made ready in the Mount Alvernia complex.

It will allow people at the home who get COVID-19 to be able to remain at the elderly residence rather than go to St Bernard’s Hospital.

Yesterday, a Nightingale Facility exercise went smoothly with 25 volunteers as fake patients acting out a situation where there was a surge of coronavirus infections.

There was a debriefing and the Minister for Civil Contingencies reported that processes had improved from the week before.

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TOP TWO: The minister and Chief Secretary delivered today’s message

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The Chief Secretary Darren Grech, appearing for the first time in a press conference, called the civil service ‘the second battalion’ in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

He spoke of the two team system that had worked so well and the amount of people who had worked from home using ‘cloud-based systems’.

Grech pointed out that a positive aspect of ‘such an extreme circumstance’ is knowing how the processes could be improved.

“It allows the Chief Secretary to see the systems and the people tested to extremes, bringing out where things need to change and what has been resilient,” said Grech.

“There are definitely  significant changes needed to improve the public services in Gibraltar.”

After all this work, he now expects counters and offices to re-open soon.

“The Public Service will emerge stronger and more effective,” he concluded.

“Temporary measures such as the use of cloud-based communications and online services could become much more permanent in the near future.”

However, with an economic crisis ahead, he said Grech expected civil servants to do ‘more for less’ as time goes on.

This reference could be interpreted as the possibility of personnel and pay cuts in the future.

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