THE Rock will be receiving 35,000 antibody tests in the coming weeks to see who has been infected already with COVID-19.
These tests could prove immunity to the virus according to research carried out in countries like South Korea.
The tests will contribute to a country wide study which will also include cross frontier workers who may not live in Gibraltar.
The Abbott antibody blood test will provide ‘much more reliability’ than finger prick antibody tests used by many countries worldwide, said Medical Director Krishna Rawal.
“Potentially, my discussions have been with the clinical teams and the laboratory testing teams that we may even be able to process up to 500 of these tests a day,” said Rawal.
It is thought that the antibody will help to find out whether people had been infected with COVID as far back as Christmas time when lots of people were unwell.
The antibody tests should not be confused with the COVID-19 swabs which will also be increased to average around 300 a day in the next few weeks.
It comes as Gibraltar has swab tested 14.3% of their population, amounting to approximately 4,576 tests, mainly on those showing symptoms and front-line workers.
A laboratory has recently been set up at the Gibraltar University, in partnership with the GHA, which will be able to do from 100 to 300 tests each day, 1% of the population, as from next week.
The lab will be controlled by Public Health Gibraltar and contributes towards the government’s strategy of tracking who might have the virus and keeping them from spreading it further.
The number of active cases on the British territory has gone down to just three after one had recovered from the coronavirus, taking the recovery toll up to 144.
The Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia regarded the Government’s COVID-19 phone lines as one the success stories from the pandemic.
He reported that over 5,600 calls had been made to the ‘111’ service since its launch, the number to call if people have COVID-19 symptoms or questions.
The Minister warned the public to not abuse the phone lines and that ‘the government, the GHA and the RGP have a zero tolerance policy in this regard’.
Some 4,418 non-medical queries were made to the other hotline, 200 41818, with topics which ranged from ‘shopping issues to employment’.
A total of 1,280 requests were carried out by this second hotline, 372 for food delivery and 128 about vulnerable households.
The government has created a unique system of community support to help the elderly, especially, using an army of over 1,000 volunteers.
A total of 45 people are stranded outside of Gibraltar as a result of the global pandemic and restricted movement in countries worldwide.
This includes 33 Gibraltarian residents in Morocco, one in the Phillipines, nine in India and one in South America.
Garcia mentioned that Spain is to impose a 14-day quarantine for all those entering the country as from Friday, and that frontline workers working in Gibraltar would not need to quarantine.
The number of air arrivals has increased, with an average of 68 people per flight on four flights from London Heathrow to Gibraltar.
The number of people leaving to the UK from Gibraltar on average is 87 on each flight, with a total of 349 passengers leaving in one week.
Garcia reminded those who are travelling that Gibraltar continues to have strict rules for those who can fly into the Rock
He also reminded people to not use flights to Gibraltar as a gateway to get into Spain unless they have the right documentation.
There are currently eight categories of persons who are allowed entry into Gibraltar:
- Registered Gibraltarians, either by birth or by naturalisation.
- Persons with proof of residence in Gibraltar.
- Seafarers in transit with a pre-clearance letter.
- Spanish nationals in transit to Spain
- Other nationals in transit to Spain with proof of official residency in the country
- Persons with proof that they intend to work in Gibraltar
- Military personnel issued with travel orders
- Individuals holding a BCA electronic letter granting them permission
The Gibraltar government continues working on persuading the UK authorities that the British territory should be excluded from the two-week quarantine imposed on arrivals to the country.