The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, this morning convened the COVID PLATINUM Command in order to consider the advice of the Gibraltar Health Authority’s Consultant Medical Microbiologist, Dr Nick Cortes, and other senior medical professionals in Gibraltar. COVID Platinum met this afternoon and had a lengthy discussion which included, at the Chief Minister’s invitation, doctors Cortes, Bhatti and Rawal as well as Assistant Commissioner Cathal Yeats.
In their communication to the Chief Minister the medical professionals highlighted their concern about the number of new COVID-19 diagnoses continuing to increase unabated. They described this is an extremely worrying trajectory with a 7-day rolling rate per 100,000 that puts Gibraltar’s growth curve at near vertical.
The medical professionals welcomed the measures taken by the Government on the 27th December and added that they felt that, in their professional view, the relaxation of restrictions on New Year’s Eve, whilst being done for laudable reasons, could only act as a further catalyst to cause many more transmission events and lead to more infections. They added that, coming a week after Christmas day, when the results of household mixing are already being seen in terms of cases and many in our community will be at a peak of viral load and infectivity, further household mixing of up to 12 on NYE will only serve to facilitate further transmission.
For that reason, the medical professionals recommend a more formal restriction of socialising and a message to state there should not be mixing of households on New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day.
In light of the advice of the medical professionals, led by Dr Cortes’ communication, and given the continuing high numbers of infections with COVID-19 being reported daily, the decision was reluctantly made by COVID Platinum Command that the curfew in place in Gibraltar should NOT be relaxed for New Year’s Eve. This measure has been approved by round-robin also of the Gibraltar Cabinet.
This announcement is being made as soon as possible to enable people to plan for the evening and night of the 31st December.
The Chief Minister said: ‘We are genuinely sorry to have to take this measure, but the numbers of infections are not abating. The medical advice is clear and we must act led by the science. We must therefore put aside all other considerations and understand that the views of our medical professionals are informed only by a desire to protect life and the resilience of our ability to continue to provide healthcare to our community as a whole and not just to be able to deal with those who contract COVID-19 and require hospitalisation. Indeed, I have already addressed the whole community on the effect the huge numbers of infections and self isolations is having on our ability to deliver public services and we must act now to curtail activity even on the night of New Year’s Eve. We would not take such a step on such a significant date if it were not essential that we should do so. But act we must and act we will, in keeping with the advice we have from our serious and concerned health professionals.’