25th February 2020, 17:25
The Government has added to the list of at-risk countries covered by the regulations on the Coronavirus threat: anyone arriving in Gibraltar from these countries must report to authorities. In a related statement, Number Six said it continues to take active measures to prepare for and protect Gibraltar from the spread of the virus, known officially as COVID 19.
And, on Tuesday afternoon, La Vanguardia reported the first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in mainland Spain, in Barcelona. The patient is reportedly a woman who had recently travelled to Northern Italy. It brings the number of confirmed cases in Spain up to four - the other three were in Tenerife and Mallorca.
Earlier this month, the Government published regulations setting out the nine countries to which travel was not recommended due to increased risk of coronavirus infection. These were largely East Asian countries, and included China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Now, the list has been expanded to sixteen: with the addition of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam as well as Iran, Northern Italy, and Tenerife. Anyone currently in one of the at-risk countries is advised to email email@example.com with the subject line "self-isolation", in order to receive advice from a Public Health professional on the best way to protect yourself and others.
Upon arriving in Gibraltar, travellers are legally obliged to report to a Borders and Coastguard Officer if arriving by land or air, or a Port Authority officer if by sea. If you've already arrived in Gibraltar from one of these countries in the last fourteen days, you should call 111 to declare your recent travel, and self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days from the date of your departure - even if you don't have symptoms.
The Government says there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Gibraltar to date, with all tests returning negative. However, it says, the Civil Contingency Council is monitoring Gibraltar's preparedness should a case be confirmed. It says a table-top exercise, involving a practice patient transfer to St Bernard's Hospital, confirmed Gibraltar is taking measures "over and above" those in the UK.
Meanwhile, the Department for Public Health is coordinating a public hand hygiene campaign, advising people to catch their sneezes and coughs in tissues, to bin the tissues, and to wash their hands or use a sanitiser gel. This has been matched with an internal campaign within the public services, and bespoke training on infection control for frontline staff.
The Government says the risk to Gibraltar currently remains low, with up to date information available on wuhan.gi. Minister for Public Health, John Cortes, asked anyone travelling outside of Gibraltar to pay close attention to the changing situation worldwide, while Minister for Health, Paul Balban, encouraged people follow the advice of public health professionals.