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9th December 2021, 16:34

'Very likely' first case of Omicron variant detected in Gibraltar

It's very likely that the first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Gibraltar, according to the Government.

Number Six says it will take another one to two days to confirm. However, it says, the Contact Tracing Bureau will be advising all close contacts of the case to isolate for ten days, regardless of vaccination status.

It appears the person in question was infected while at a social function in Spain earlier this month.

The Director of Public Health said it was very likely that the first Omicron case would be confirmed as further genome sequencing takes place. Dr Helen Carter said the requirement for all close contacts of the case to self-isolate is a temporary measure which will buy time until she has further data to be able to advise the Government.

Dr Carter emphasised the importance of boosters, citing emerging evidence that three doses of the Pfizer vaccine can have a neutralising effect on the Omicron variant. Anyone who's declined their booster and has since reconsidered can get in touch with the GHA by calling 200 66966 or registering on gha.gi/pfizerbooster. There will also be walk-in clinics from ten to noon and two to seven on Friday the 10th, Monday the 13th and Tuesday the 14th of December.

The Chief Minister said the Government will always act on the advice from the Director of Public Health to try to minimise the spread as much as possible. Fabian Picardo said there is now a significant amount of evidence that the efficacy of the initial doses has started to wear off, urging everyone offered a booster to take it. He also called on people to follow the advice of public health professionals, especially if you're a close contact, and to call 111 at the first onset of symptoms, no matter how mild. 

On Thursday, there were 245 active cases on the Rock, with 27 new cases and 14 recoveries. There are two people in the COVID-19 Ward.