Need some good news on Covid-19? Read this

Sunday 5th April – Jonathan Sacramento

No-one can commit to predicting an end to the Covid-19 pandemic and how it affects our little corner of the world. The lockdown is in effect until the end of this month, and every one of our lives has been affected. Our sense of freedom has perished. Little things we took for granted – visiting our loved ones, a walk in the park, a night at the cinema – seem like they happened a lifetime ago. And for some, there are genuine concerns about their livelihood and how they will survive financially.

But there is some hope.

Andalucia appears to have survived the worst of the spread in Spain

Spain has been one of the hardest hit countries. It has now registered more cases than Italy, and the death toll is the second highest on the world rankings. Yet, the region closest to us, Andalucia, has miraculously been spared the worst of it, with 56 to 81 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 316 to 611 cases in the more populous regions. There are theories about this. It’s the poorest region in Spain, with fewer travel connections, and therefore lower migration rates. Whatever the reason, it’s the part of Spain Gibraltar is connected to geographically, and therefore has acted as a buffer zone for the virus spreading to the Rock.

The Curve appears to be flattening in Spain and Italy

In Europe’s two most tortured countries, Spain and Italy, statistics show a levelling of new cases in the last week. Medical research tells us the virus has an incubation period of 14 days. The lockdown measures were introduced between two and four weeks before the curve began to flatten, which means they appear to be having an impact on the spread of the disease.

Gibraltar has yet to register a Covid-19 death

On Wednesday 1st April the Government announced a local man may have been the first patient to die of Covid-19. However, three days later, it was revealed the swab results had come back negative. There are those who question whether the Government should have released that information without a confirmed swab, and indeed whether the media should have published it. But with so much viral rumour and misinformation being spread on social media and private messaging services, the need for reliable, fact-based information is more crucial than ever.

It might kill fewer people than we first expected

80 percent of cases show mild to no symptoms, so the reality is that the majority of cases may even go undiagnosed. On Tuesday 31s March the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine reduced their estimate of the mortality rate from 0.51% to 0.1-0.26%

Their research suggests that many of the people who were registered as having died from Covid-19 actually died from other causes, but because they tested positive for Covid-19 they were included in the death tally.

Gibraltar has a high rate of testing

At the time of writing, 4% of people living and working in Gibraltar have been tested. That is much higher than many other countries. The third highest testing rate in the world.

We haven’t been cut off from the world

Although many airlines have grounded their planes, British Airways has announced it will continue to fly to and from London four times a week, bringing home stranded passengers, mail, and essential goods and medicine.

The GHA has stocked up on Chloroquine

It hasn’t been approved for use yet, and clinical tests are still ongoing, but Chloroquine and Hydrocloroquine have been mooted as a potential anti-viral treatments for Covid-19 patients. The GHA has predicted that, if the drug is proven effective, there will be a worldwide shortage, so it’s bought up a stockpile. However, the Gibraltar Government has warned people not to self-medicate, as taking the wrong dose can be toxic.

There's a lot about this pandemic take in, but amid much uncertainty and anxiety, there are reasons for us to feel more positive about how we deal with this once in a century event.