The Government urges the public to remain prudent and cautious given the latest upsurge in cases of COVID-19 in different parts of Europe.
This becomes more relevant because the first case of the Delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India, has now been detected in Gibraltar by our new testing facility. The person is in isolation and close contacts are being identified.
Gibraltar has done extremely well with a very successful testing and vaccination programme that has been recognised across the world. However, this does not mean that we should let our guard down and become complacent. This success should not be put at risk.
It is important to remember that the virus is still out there and that even people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have contracted the virus previously are at risk of catching it, the latter for a second time. There are examples of this in Gibraltar already. The vaccine will reduce the severity of the infection in the vast majority of cases and reduce the number of hospitalisations. It is the most effective method of protection and the Government continues to encourage it. This is a proven fact already. However, a large cohort of persons under the age of 16 remain unvaccinated in Gibraltar pending the latest scientific advice.
The public should also take particular care when they travel outside Gibraltar. It is essential to follow the rules applicable at the point of destination and on the way there. Andalucia, for example, has diagnosed 7482 cases in the last 7 days with 308 hospitalisations, 22 of whom are in intensive care and sadly 21 persons passing away. There are 160 cases of Covid-19 in the Campo de Gibraltar next door, including 91 in Algeciras and 23 in La Linea.
The growth in the rate of infection, some of which is spread by new variants, led the United Kingdom to remove Portugal, including the islands of Madeira and the Azores, from its green list yesterday. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office advice to UK citizens is that they should not travel to Amber or Red List countries. Those who choose to travel there regardless would need to follow a rigorous testing and self-isolation regime on return to the United Kingdom. The Government has also made the decision to follow the United Kingdom and move Portugal and its islands to the Amber list as well. This will not affect fully vaccinated individuals, which is the majority of the resident population of Gibraltar.
The implications for vaccinated people will be minimum (bar the requirement to have lateral flow tests on Days 1 and 5). Unvaccinated people will be required to have PCR tests on Days 1 and 5 as well as self-isolate until they receive a negative result on Day 5.
The Government therefore urge the public to continue to follow the rules and to exercise caution and restraint. We cannot spoil our own success.