COVID-19 – Press Conference
Tuesday 7/4/20 – Press Room, 6 Convent Place – 4.00pm
Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Information Dr Joseph Garcia
Minister for Health and Care Paul Balban
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
Good afternoon and welcome.
This daily briefing will provide you with updated data and information.
And we will once again repeat our public health advice.
I am joined today by the Minister for Health and Care Paul Balban.
Before I get into the details,
let me say that our thoughts are with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson is a good friend of Gibraltar.
We hope and pray for a speedy recovery.
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 40 attendances at A&E in total.
Nine of them had COVID symptoms.
Five were swabbed.
Two had already been swabbed and were positive.
But they went to A&E for other reasons.
Four patients were admitted.
One patient was admitted to John Ward.
This is our COVID ward.
One was admitted to the COVID ICU.
One to Rainbow Ward.
One to Dudley Toomey Ward for a surgical issue.
The good news is that,
one patient was discharged from the COVID ward yesterday.
The test data as at 8.30 this morning is as follows:
I am giving you the grand total first.
This includes the random test samples.
Total swabs (including random) 1440
Results pending 389
Results received 1051
In terms of the random sample alone,
the updated results are as follows:
Random swabs taken 399
Random swabs pending 199
Random swabs received 200
The active cases are now down from 57 to 53.
46 are at home.
There are 3 cases in ERS.
And there 3 cases in the COVID Ward.
There is 1 case with confirmed COVID-19 in ICU at the moment.
TEST NUMBERS AND LEVELS
I want to repeat that the number of tests carried out in Gibraltar is high.
It is significant in terms of our population size.
Even if some have been tested more than once.
The grand total of 1440 tests so far about 4.5% of the population.
This is a huge sample per capita.
The data also shows that of 1051 tests results, 113 have come back positive.
Needless to say,
the number of positives can spike very quickly.
The data also shows that sixty confirmed positive cases have now recovered.
UPDATED GHA INFORMATION
This continues to be a difficult time.
But there is some good news as well.
As you heard yesterday,
a new oxygen plant is now up and running at St Bernard’s Hospital.
This was a Brexit contingency measure.
Franco closed the border in 1969.
And people died here because there was no oxygen.
The new plant will now serve a useful purpose.
Indeed, the GHA will be largely self-sufficient.
Tests to fill up oxygen cylinders are complete.
They have proved successful.
This is very good news.
You will recall our Nightingale facility at Europa Point.
This has 190 beds.
Already 110 of those 190 beds are set up to deliver oxygen to patients.
This again is very good news.
We called for Volunteer Care Assistants last week.
320 of you have put your names down.
This too is good news.
The training of those Care Assistants has already commenced.
An isolation unit in the grounds of Mount Alvernia is expected to be ready this week.
This will improve our infrastructure further still.
Again good news.
Another success story has been the 111 number.
This is our frontline service.
The number to call for COVID-19 medical queries.
The 111 service has received over 4100 calls so far.
The number of people in self-isolation yesterday was 229.
It peaked at 360 persons on 31 March.
And has come down slowly every day in April.
But this can change rapidly.
So we have to remain disciplined and alert.
The 111 service has been improved.
More clinicians are now on hand.
This includes GPs and surgeons.
So immediate medical advice is available
to the call handlers and the call operators.
And ultimately to you.
We are all making a supreme effort.
An effort to pull together.
GPs and clinicians from private clinics are helping out too.
It is now 35 days since our first case was confirmed.
But our message has remained the same.
Stay at home.
This message is based on medical advice.
It is based on public health advice.
And it is also a matter of law.
This restriction on movement
is for your own safety;
for the safety of others;
and for the safety of Gibraltar as a whole.
Most of you do obey the rules.
It is important to acknowledge that.
But there is still a minority who flout the law.
Who behave as if this did not apply to them.
And who ignore our instructions.
Those people risk undermining our common efforts.
It is unfair on you.
And unfair on those who follow the rules.
But rest assured that persistent offenders are being stopped.
Some 30 people are day are told to go home.
And some arrests have been made.
Over 40 people have had to be escorted home.
Some of them aged over 70.
Precisely those most at risk.
This is dangerous.
The few could spoil it for the many.
Controls may have to be tightened.
On-the-spot fines may have to be introduced.
We do not want to do this.
But we may be left with no choice.
So please do what we tell you.
Stay safely indoors.
Do not look for excuses to go outside.
GIBRALTARIANS ABROAD – AIR LINKS
In the meantime, efforts continue to bring people back home.
There are now 27 citizens stranded abroad.
Three in Australia;
Eight in India;
Fifteen in Moroco; and
One in the United States.
Issues have also arisen with passengers flying to Gibraltar in order to enter Spain.
Seven such passengers arrived here by air on Sunday.
And were initially denied entry at the border.
The matter was later resolved with the Spanish authorities.
British Airways have now been alerted.
And clarification is being sought as to what documents are required.
There were 67 arrivals by air last working week.
This compares to 3448 in the corresponding period last year.
The number coming through the border has now dropped further.
There were 13737 persons crossing into Gibraltar during the last working week.
It compares with 170988 in the same week last year.
This huge drop is not surprising given lockdown on both sides.
So help us to help you.
You will recall that on 6 March
we asked the elderly to avoid contact with others.
Even with relatives or children.
On 11 March
our advice to the over 70s was to stay at home.
On 16 March
this confinement was made compulsory by law.
That was some three weeks ago.
The objective was to protect the vulnerable.
We cannot say what will happen next.
But it is important not to lower our guard.
The virus is out there.
You cannot see it.
You cannot touch it.
You cannot hear it.
But it is there.
An invisible killer.
And you can catch it from other people.
You can also catch it from objects.
Beware of this cross-contamination.
If you are over 70,
do not allow anyone into your home.
And make sure you clean and disinfect anything that comes in from the outside.
It is the only way to keep safe.
Three weeks at home a long time.
We know that.
It is not easy.
But you must understand that a real risk exists.
A risk to life.
Over the last few weeks we have thanked countless people.
We have thanked countless organisations.
This afternoon we want to pay tribute to our over 70s.
To thank them also.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for your understanding.
Thank you for paying attention.
You have endured lockdown for longer than any other group.
And most of you are listening.
You have set up new social structures.
You have found new ways of communicating.
with your friends;
with your neighbours;
and with your loved ones.
Three weeks is indeed a long time.
But many of you have seen worse.
You have lived,
through the horrors of a World War;
through the trauma of a forced evacuation;
through the hardship of a closed border;
and through the difficulties of years of blockade.
And you made the best of those hard situations.
You overcame them,
with typical Gibraltarian spirit.
And you emerged with a smile from the other end.
You will do so again.
When all this is over.
For now, and for your own protection.
Stay at home and stay safe.
As Her Majesty the Queen said on Sunday,
We will meet again.
Because we live in exceptional times.
And everyone needs to play their part.
Gibraltar has done itself proud.
This is a national effort.
A nation united against a common enemy.
Indeed, the whole planet united.
Bear in mind the global nature of this fight.
Over a million people have the virus.
More than sixty-four thousand people have died.
Over twenty-seven thousand in Italy and Spain alone.
Never forget this bigger picture.
We do not want that to happen here.
So help the GHA by staying at home.
Help our emergency services by staying at home.
And applaud them at 8.00pm.
They deserve our full support.
Before passing on to Minister Balban, 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 my colleague the Minister for Health and Care Paul Balban.
- Remember – Follow Public Health advice.