THE Chief Minister of Gibraltar has said he is ‘shaken to the core’ following a surge in coronavirus deaths.

Fabian Picardo said in this afternoon’s press conference that the now 45 deaths on the Rock from the disease represent ‘the worst loss of life of Gibraltarians in over 100 years.’

“Even in war, we have never lost so many in such a short time,” the leader said.

It comes as two more people have died from COVID-19 in Gibraltar in the past 24 hours, while 21 passed away over the past 72 hours.

The majority of the deaths have come since the start of the new year, with 2021 accounting for 38 of the total 45 lives lost.

“His Excellency the Governor, all my Cabinet colleagues, the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues, and Ms Hassan Nahon, together with the Speaker of the House and his staff, have all asked me to express their own condolences on this awful loss of life,” Picardo said today.

“We can also be grateful for the expressions of support and solidarity that have been sent from the United Kingdom, from Spain and from around the world. There is great suffering across our nation.

“But we are not alone. There is great suffering around the world.”

Gibraltar has implemented increasingly stricter measures following the discovery of the more contagious British variant of COVID-19 in December.

It is now under an effective lockdown after cases and deaths started to climb.

“I am shaken to the core by the knowledge that, since I addressed Parliament just 72 hours ago, 21 of our fellow Gibraltarians have died of complications relating to COVID-19,” added Picardo.

“Gibraltar has not experienced such loss of life in such a short time since the 1951 explosion of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ammunition ship, the Bedenham.

“Now, 38 Gibraltarians have died in the last 18 days since the start of the year. In the last 24 hours alone, we have lost another 2 of our fellow Gibraltarians to this awful virus.

“This is now the worst loss of life of Gibraltarians in over one hundred years. Even in war, we have never lost so many in such a short time.”

66 1 2021
DARK DAYS: The pandemic has taken more lives in this last week than ever before

Elderly impact

According to the Government, there are now 128 care home residents infected with the virus.

“I believe we will see more deaths amongst the frail elderly at the Elderly Residential Services,” warned Picardo.

The leader said all workers at the ERS have ‘given their all’ for the residents and that the deaths ‘have impacted them very greatly.’

According to the statement, coronavirus entered the ERS via visitors before the lockdown and members of staff ‘who inadvertently have infected their precious residents.’

The number of patients in hospital is now 43, with the nine in critical care, while eight are on ventilators.

Active COVID-19 cases at elderly residential homes have soared to 128.

However, the total number active cases has now dropped to 681, suggesting the lockdown restrictions are having an impact.

Health experts have indicated that restrictions often take two weeks to be felt in the figures.

There were 41 new cases detected on the Rock on Monday but there were many more recoveries.

Nearly 6,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been distributed among the population, with 5,000 more doses expected by Wednesday.

The 15 people who died from the virus over the weekend were all in the elderly bracket of 65 to 95 years old.

The majority died of COVID-19 pneumonia, although all had underlying conditions that made them vulnerable to the virus.

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