A PLAN to carry out 1,000 COVID-19 tests a day was announced today by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister.
Fabian Picardo said this could help avoid a new lockdown, which would only occur if there were too many people in hospital at one time.
With 64 active COVID-19 cases today, the virus has still to claim the life of any local resident.
The one person in hospital is a woman in her late eighties who will soon be discharged, revealed the Chief Minister.
He announced it will now be necessary for parents picking up their children at school gates to wear masks.
Fines for not doing so will be enforced with an on-the-spot fine of £100 or £10,000 if proved in court.
Social distancing must also be enforced when the children are being picked up.
“We are now testing in the region of 700 people a day,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo today.
“We expect to ramp that up even further now to closer to 1,000 a day and beyond.
“Already we are testing much more than just about any other nation.
“We are close on 500% more tests per 100,000 head of population than the United Kingdom on a daily basis.”
New saliva tests will be used instead of the current swabs although the Chief Minister said they could lead to ‘false negatives’.
“It will give us the possibility of casting a much wider net,” said Picardo.
“The school population is 4,000 in Gibraltar.
“By testing the frontline of education every two weeks it comes out to about a sixth of Gibraltar’s population .”
The plan is to roll out the saliva test for the schools at first with the current PCR swab continuing to be used for everyone else for now.
A lot of the testing will be done of teachers and students after recent cases were recorded at local schools.
The hope is to avoid COVID-19 coming together with a No Deal Brexit, said Picardo in answer to an Olive Press question.
“The worst case scenario is that we get more cases of the COVID-19 that they overwhelm the GHA,” he revealed.
“At the same time we could go through a Brexit no deal and we have a bad flu pandemic in Gibraltar as well.
“That would makes things extraordinarily tight in Gibraltar.
“The probability is that things never manifest quite that badly, but you never know.”
The Chief Minister urged people to ‘act responsibly’, use the COVID-19 contact tracing app and wear masks where required.