24 Apr, 2020 @ 19:40
2 mins read

Active COVID-19 cases down to just TWO as Gibraltar looks to NHS for future vaccines


THE Rock could receive any vaccines or medicine direct from within the NHS in new arrangements being worked out.

As more aggressive testing starts next week, the Gibraltar Health Authority believes its cautious approach has helped stave away deaths.

“We are working with the NHS, Department of Health, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK to secure supply lines to the NHS.

“The plan there is that we would become essentially part of the NHS although we are not part of the UK.

“We certainly stand a very good chance of getting our hands on vaccines or medicine for the virus if needed.”

Testing of a new vaccine has begun at Oxford University to try to see to find a way to beat COVID-19.

“Clinical trials of vaccines on humans and are being conducted in the UK, antiviral drugs are being explored testing has been increased,” said Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia.

“But there is no quick fix, no instant magic wand and the disruption to our lives is set to continue.”

The Deputy Chief Minister said that a draft paper will be prepared over this weekend on loosening the lockdown.

It will include the elderly exercise allowance as well as business and education measures.

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Garcia reported that of 36 people who visited A&E at St Bernard’s Hospital, ten were complaining of COVID-19 symptoms.

Five of those were swabbed and one was admitted to the COVID CCU and three to the COVID John Ward.

A total of 2,105 swabs have been carried out, with 74 results pending with 131 recovered.

The testing programme has now covered 6.6% of the population in Gibraltar.

It is the fifth biggest tester for the proportion of the population, behind Iceland, Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands and the UAE.

The results show that the largest age group to be affected were from 31 to 50-years-old which accounted for half of the confirmed cases.

The least affected were the over-70s who accounted for six percent of the total, affirming the effectiveness of the elderly lockdown.

Rawal said that there was no point testing all the population because it only created ‘a snapshot’ for infections which could change at any point.

However, he announced ‘more aggressive testing’ would start next week and we would all ‘have to change the way we live’.

Random testing

There were only around 70 passengers travelling to and from Gibraltar on the weekly British Airways flights last week.

One was forced to fly back because he did not have his Spanish residency papers with him.

After talks with the Spanish government, he will be able to enter the country today.

Goods continue to be brought to the Rock from Spain, with over 600 trucks coming in last week.

The numbers of people coming into Gibraltar is just five percent of what it once was, less than two thousand, most of them workers.

Although there was a resurgence of the virus there yesterday, the neighbouring Gibraltar Campo towns have seen low amounts of cases.

Garcia said random screening tests on those coming into Gibraltar from Spain could be made soon, although not necessarily at the frontier.

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‘Feeling the strain’

Rawal confirmed that the GHA will be making ‘very small steps’ to restart other medical clinics.

He asked people to call 2000 7910 to get an appointment for any concern they may have.

“We have to make sure that that’s done absolutely safely and we don’t place you at increased risk,” added Rawal.

He revealed that people who are overweight are more prone to the virus, so he encouraged healthy lifestyles.

On the black boxes story in the UK media, Rawal said there were now 57 ventilators ready for use in Gibraltar.

More have been ordered so there could be 100 very soon, with none having been used so far.

He mentioned a Wuhan study that confirmed that no babies born to COVID-19 mums would not be affected by the virus.

“I’m feeling the strain of this now, and I know that you are,” concluded Rawal.

“I’m certainly missing my friends, and that more relaxed element of living that I probably didn’t appreciate until it’s now disappeared away from my life.

“So please, I would say to you, let’s not trip at this final hurdle – look after each other and we will get through this.”

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