19th March 2020, 18:20
Logistics and education were covered at Thursday’s Covid-19 press conference by the Deputy Chief Minister, Joseph Garcia; the Minister for Education, Gilbert Licudi; and the head of Civil Contingencies, Ivor Lopez.
It was confirmed that there are currently eight active cases in Gibraltar, with two having recovered. The Field hospital at the Europa Sports Hall will open on Friday and the drive-in testing facility will be operational in the next 24 hours. 886 people have put themselves forward as volunteers to assist the Government. It was also revealed that only 27% of pupils are now attending school, and the College will close on Monday with its staff re-deployed.
Deputy Chief Minister, Joseph Garcia, confirmed there had been meetings with the Governor and the Commander British Forces for military support, adding the UK and the MOD were very much a part of Gibraltar and that we would fight this together. GBC understands the Regiment, which was on deployment, has returned to the Rock.
There has also been liaison between the Overseas Territories, who have vowed to support each other, with Dr Garcia announcing the UK has commissioned the Crown Agents to procure and deliver Personal Protection Equipment and testing kits for the OTs immediately. On logistics, the Deputy Chief Minister also announced three of the four scheduled flights to Gibraltar on Thursday were cancelled due to lack of demand.
Explaining the changes to the hospital set-up, Dr Garcia announced a 300 square metre marquee which was being used for storage at Coaling Island had been passed on to the GHA, although its use has yet to be determined. The field hospital at the Europa Sports Hall boasts 192 beds, with space for more. There are 30 additional beds at the retreat Centre. In answer to questions, he also confirmed accommodation was being provided to key workers.
On education, Minister Gilbert Licudi announced the ‘new school system’ offering child care to key workers would be catered for at Notre Dame, St Anne's and Westside and would span all ages. A questionnaire is being sent to parents to determine the demand.
For his part, the Civil Contingencies coordinator, Ivor Lopez, explained the network used for the overall co-ordination. He emphasised the need for families and neighbours to do their bit in helping so the home support teams could concentrate on helping the very vulnerable who do not have wider support.
Many of the support teams will include volunteers, with the former Commanding Officer of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, David King, returning from the UK to coordinate this.