Today HM Government of Gibraltar can announce the completion of a new Gibraltar Covid screening laboratory, a joint venture between Public Health Gibraltar and the University of Gibraltar, using equipment supplied by the GHA and University of Gibraltar.
As part of the on-going planning for the safe phased lifting of the lockdown, the Ministers of Health and Civil Contingencies have commissioned a contact tracing bureau and a dedicated Covid screening laboratory.
To ensure that the lifting of the lockdown can proceed safely while minimising the risk of a surge in Covid cases, it is essential that we closely monitor the number of new cases of Coronavirus on a daily basis. This will allow us to assess the success of the lifting of the lockdown while permitting us to mount a timely response if the number of new cases increases.
We are establishing the contract tracing bureau by repurposing the current field hospital communications team and redeploying staff to bolster the 111 service. This will allow us to maintain the skills of the current staff if there is a need to reactivate the field hospital and divert that expertise to contact tracing.
The existing GGA infection control and ‘drive-through’ swabbing teams will be increasing the number of screening swabs taken.
Minister for Public Health, Prof John Cortes said, ‘Public Health Gibraltar have worked with the University of Gibraltar and the GHA to set up a new Public Health Gibraltar/University of Gibraltar Covid screening laboratory at the Europa Point campus. This laboratory will use equipment already available in Gibraltar. This will allow us to undertake population wide screening using the Public Health Laboratory while maintaining the diagnostic service at the GHA.
The contact tracing bureau will use the results from the screening laboratory to contact people who test positive and trace their contacts to advise them on the quarantine requirements.’
Director of Public Health, Dr Sohail Bhatti said: ‘As we enter the next phase of our pandemic response, the Covid laboratory and the contract tracing bureau will act as our eyes and ears and will give us an early warning of any increase in case numbers.