A FULL social lockdown will be in force from tonight at 10pm in Gibraltar, as active cases closed in on the 1,000 mark.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said this large rise had forced his hand as 973 cases were now active and over 2,000 were in self-isolation.

The two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown will mean people are only allowed out for work, exercise and essential shopping.

However, with Spain not being in lockdown, those with second homes across the border can go over to them.

There are now 20 patients in the COVID-19 ward with five more in the Critical Care Unit (CCU), at least one on ventilation.

This has led to a second CCU being opened and the Europa Point Nightingale facility being put on 24 hours notice.

These, however, need to be staffed and even with surgery cancelled it has put a lot of pressure on health workers.

A large outbreak has also occurred at the elderly care homes, where 18 people had tested positive, 16 in Mount Alvernia.

Another elderly death on December 31 has brought the number of COVID-19 victims to seven on the Rock.

The number of tests has now risen to over 123,000, nearly four times the local population, making the Rock one of the top per capita testers in the world.

Gibraltar Cases Graph
SPIKE: COVID-19 cases have doubled in the last month compared to the rest of the pandemic

Hope arrives

The legal lockdown will now be reviewed next week again as the results of the Christmas gatherings take effect.

Businesses will be able to carry on working with new government help to be discussed next week,

“The behaviour of the virus with such massive infectivity suggests that we are seeing the new, more infectious variant at play here,” said Picardo.

“But we cannot confirm that genetically.

“The social behaviour we have seen in the last three weeks will have assisted that new strain or even the original strain to propagate as it has.”

With the first supply of 5,000 Pfizer vaccines arriving on January 9, he said hope was finally on the horizon.

It was hoped 5,000 people could be inoculated by the vaccine, using the one-dose strategy instead of the two doses thought to be necessary at first.

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