WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
Thank you for joining us once again.
Welcome to our daily briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
This reflects our commitment keep you informed.
And to keep you safe.
Which is why we will again repeat our public health message.
I am joined today
by Consultant Geriatrician and Medical Lead at Elderly Residential Services Dr Antonio Marin.
He will update us on the situation at ERS.
The Government is very thankful for his efforts and those of Susan Vallejo and the team there.
I will start with an update from A&E and with the latest test data.
Remember that anyone with the symptoms of COVID-19 should call 111 first.
In the last 24 hours there were a total of 44 attendances at A&E.
Fifteen of them had COVID symptoms.
Nine of them were swabbed.
One was admitted to the COVID Ward.
One was admitted to the COVID CCU.
The latest data is as follows:
Total swabs (including random) 1753
Results pending 154
Results received 1599
The active cases, I repeat, are now 26.
All 26 are at home.
This morning there were:
Zero confirmed cases in the COVID Ward.
Zero confirmed cases in the COVID ICU
And zero confirmed cases in ERS.
please bear in mind that there are suspected cases.
Two in the ward and two in ICU,
where the results of swabs are awaited.
I have an urgent update on the above.
I can confirm that six GHA staff have been diagnosed as confirmed cases of COVID-19.
All were working at the Children’s Health Centre in the 48 hour period preceding the onset of symptoms.
Five have been advised to self-isolate.
And one has been admitted to the COVID Ward.
The whole facility will be decontaminated.
All relevant details will be made public.
Once again do not believe rumours on social media.
We will provide you all the information directly.
My colleague the Minister for Health Paul Balban will be here tomorrow.
TEST NUMBERS AND LEVELS
Back to the figures.
The grand total of 1753 tests so far is some 5.5% of the population.
In terms of tests done per capita (million),
Gibraltar is still ranked fourth in the world.
DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING COMMISSION
This health pandemic has reshaped our lives.
Gibraltar is not the place we once knew.
Much has changed.
Things need to be done differently.
In many areas.
Some bodies have had to change how they operate.
The Development and Planning Commission,
or DPC, is one of them.
It has met in public since January 2012.
This will not be possible during the health crisis.
For very obvious reasons.
Temporary working arrangements have had to be devised.
Let me explain what they are.
The Chairman has selected a number of applications.
public participation is not required,
or that process is already complete with no responses.
The agenda has been placed on-line.
Details of the applications can be viewed there.
Members of the Commission will vote electronically on each application.
The minutes will continue to be made public as usual.
There are four applications on the latest agenda.
The first two applications relate to projects
where the requirement for EIAs is being considered.
One is North Gorge and another the new football stadium.
In both the Town Planner will submit his screening opinion.
This will simply state whether an EIA is required.
There is no provision for public comment or participation here.
The third application is for residential alterations and extensions at Devil’s Gap.
This involved a period of public participation.
That period expired on 9 December last year.
And no comments were received.
The fourth application relates to the proposed installation of photovoltaic panels on the cruise liner terminal.
This again involves no public participation.
Therefore relevant applications will be considered in this way.
For the specific reasons that I have described.
For the moment.
the Chairman is looking into other options.
Minor applications continue to be dealt with by sub-committee.
As you know,
British Airways continues to fly to Gibraltar.
This lifeline service is important.
It continues to be used to bring out essential personnel.
Also for essential supplies and cargo when needed.
As well as the mail.
There were 60 air passenger arrivals last week.
This compares to 5366 in the equivalent week last year.
Some passengers fly here in order to get to Spain.
They are not allowed to do so.
Unless they carry the relevant documentation.
It is important that you make this clear.
To any friends, relatives or business contacts.
Only Spanish citizens are allowed through.
And those who are not Spanish,
but who can prove residency in Spain.
Travel to a holiday home in Spain is not permitted.
Two UK nationals were refused entry recently.
They had to return to the UK.
However, the reverse also happens.
There are those in Spain who want to reach the UK.
And to do so via Gibraltar.
They should come here on the actual day of their flight departure.
To enter Gibraltar, they will need, both
proof of a confirmed flight booking; and
valid travel documents.
They must proceed directly from the border to the air terminal.
Gibraltar air terminal does not open overnight.
The airline has been informed.
And FCO travel advice has been updated.
108 passengers departed Gibraltar by air last week,
Some came through the border.
Indeed, a total of 12,464 people crossed the border last week.
This compares with 235,729 during the same week of last year.
This means that the average daily number coming in has fallen
from 33676 a day then
to 1780 a day now.
ASSISTANCE TO STRANDED CITIZENS
Gibraltar has been a place of refuge for centuries.
We have been here for others
in their time of need.
And the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.
Gibraltar has answered many calls for help.
Some from people seeking to reach UK.
Others seeking to use UK as a stepping stone
in order to then travel elsewhere.
The Viking Sun cruise liner was here recently.
Eight Canadian passengers and one crew disembarked.
They were taken straight to the air terminal.
And from there onward to London Heathrow.
Then back home.
This followed a conversation between the Chief Minister and
Canada’s High Commissioner in London.
Gibraltar was happy to help out.
The liner Columbus disembarked three other passengers.
One a Gibraltar resident.
Two Spanish citizens.
These made their way straight to Spain.
This was agreed with the Spanish authorities.
A Danish citizen made arrangements for repatriation from here on a private jet.
We are also in the process of assisting two Australian nationals.
They will disembark from a yacht in La Linea.
And will cross the border tomorrow
in order to catch the flight to London.
In the same way as we receive help,
we stand ready to help others.
More Gibraltar residents are waiting to come home.
That number has now gone up to 48 persons.
In six different countries.
The largest single group of 32 is in Morocco.
25 are British citizens resident here.
7 are resident Moroccan nationals.
The Moroccan Community Association is now engaged.
And ways forward are being explored with the office of Civil Contingency.
There are now eleven in India.
Ten of them are British Citizens resident in Gibraltar.
One is a resident Indian national.
All have been advised to contact the UK High Commission in New Delhi.
There are two new cases, both British.
One person in Dubai and another in South Africa.
The final number are in Australia and the United States.
In some of these cases,
rescue flights to the UK may be possible.
LIFTING THE LOCKDOWN
The virus has forced us to make changes.
To the way we operate;
To the way we interact;
To our routines;
To the way we work;
And indeed to the way we live.
There is some hope though.
The number of people in self-isolation is down.
The number of calls to the 111 hotline is down.
The number of people with COVID in hospital is down.
there were 32 free beds in the COVID ward
and 11 free beds in the COVID ICU today,
But there is no room for complacency.
We must not let down our guard.
This war is far from over.
And now is not a time to take risks.
Because that would be irresponsible.
It would mean taking risks with your safety.
Ultimately with your lives.
And we are not prepared to do that.
Exit from lockdown is now at the centre of the discussion.
At a global level.
And in Gibraltar as well.
We had a lengthy discussion in Cabinet yesterday.
The Opposition will also be involved.
Whatever happens next,
we cannot lose sight of one important fact.
There is still a killer virus out there.
Yes, Gibraltar has prepared well.
But elsewhere hundreds of people continue to die.
Over 18,000 already in Spain.
Over 12,000 in the United Kingdom.
Over 113,000 worldwide.
And we need to remember that.
Because this will influence our decision-making.
We have acted in a responsible manner.
And we will continue with a considered approach.
Based on Public Health and medical advice.
This means taking the right action at the right time.
The timing is all important.
None of us want things to get worse.
The law which confines the over 70s to their homes has been extended today.
Until 15 May.
With the unanimous approval of the Cabinet.
And the support of the Opposition.
We thank the over 70s for their patience.
The law now allows for a weekly review.
So that we can act quickly if we need to.
There are encouraging signs.
In Gibraltar and elsewhere.
A glimmer of light after weeks of darkness.
But there is still a long way to go.
To defeat the virus all of us must play our part.
We must remain disciplined
We must be determined.
We must stick to the plan.
And do what we have to do.
And at 8.00pm every day,
thank our healthcare staff.
And thank our emergency services.
Before passing on to Dr Marin, let me repeat our public health advice once again.
- Listen and act on the advice of our public health experts.
- When you sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue and then bin it.
- Wash your hands regularly for at least twenty seconds.
- Do not visit anyone over 70.
- If you are over 70 or vulnerable please stay at home.
- If you need medical advice call 111.
- If you have any other question call 200 41818.
- Stay home, Stay Alive.
I now pass you on to Dr Marin.
- Tomorrow my colleagues the
- Minister for Digital Services Albert Isola
Minister for Health Paul Balban will be here.
- Remember – Follow Public Health advice.