NEW Year’s Eve celebrations have been cancelled as COVID-19 cases rose by their largest amount ever.
The 180 new cases today brings the number of active COVID-19 cases to 714, the highest ever on the Rock.
Although at first the Gibraltar Government had allowed people to leave their homes at New Year’s Eve to see family members, the U-turn was announced late last night.
The government, however, has expressed its ‘great hope’ in the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine to bring a new way out of the pandemic.
With the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine soon to arrive on the Rock, the Oxford vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK.
The UK has already got 100 million of these vaccines with some of them possibly being sent to Gibraltar.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said he was sad to have to cancel New Year’s Eve get-togethers this December 31.
‘We are genuinely sorry to have to take this measure, but the numbers of infections are not abating,” said Picardo.
“The medical advice is clear and we must act led by the science.
“We must put aside all other considerations and understand that the views of our medical professionals are informed only by a desire to protect life and our ability to provide healthcare.”
There are now three people in the CCU intensive care facility and 12 other in the main COVID-19 ward.
Alarmingly, five new cases have been reported at elderly care homes today despite strict controls being imposed.
“We are seeing huge numbers of new infections of COVID 19 in our community,” said the Chief Minister.
“We need to give our restrictions time to take effect before we decide if we need to increase the controls in place in coming days and weeks.”
The hard-working political leader, who has had to contend with Brexit talks and COVID-19 at the same time, expressed his optimism about the Oxford vaccine.
“Everyone will hope that we will see that vaccine soon become widely available in the UK and through the UK in Gibraltar, alongside the Pfizer vaccine,” added Picardo.
Until the community was inoculated, he asked people to stay at home and follow the rules delivered before and after Christmas.