COVID-19 – Press Conference

Saturday 9/5/20 – Press Room, 6 Convent Place – 4.00pm

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Information Dr Joseph Garcia

Commander British Forces Commodore Tim Henry



Good afternoon.

Thank you for joining us for our daily briefing.

With me today is

the Commander British Forces

Commodore Tim Henry.

As you know,

the MOD continues to support Gibraltar.

And the Government is very grateful.

We truly are all in this together.


Eighty years ago this month,

13,000 Gibraltarians sailed across the Strait to French Morocco.

It was a forced evacuation.

Brought about by the onset of a World War.

And it was only the beginning.

Of a process of evacuation and re-evacuation

that did not come to an end until 1951.

That evacuation marked our people forever.

It was a key component in the development of our identity.

A before and after.

Shared experiences cemented that feeling:

the horrors of the blitz in London;

the freezing winters in Nissen Huts in Northern Ireland;

the family separation in Madeira; and

the distance and traumas in Camp Jamaica.

Those events

strengthened future generations

and made us who we are today.

It was a real sacrifice.

There was no other forced evacuation quite like this one.

And it represented

an important part of our contribution to

World War Two.

I say all this because yesterday,

as you know,

was VE day.

Victory in Europe Day.

When we marked the formal, unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied Forces.

Her Majesty the Queen addressed us last night.

The Chief Minister and the Governor did so in the afternoon.

Our ancestors made a huge sacrifice then.

Some of you lived through it.

And the battle against the enemy always came first.

75 years later we find ourselves

in a different kind of battle

against a different kind of enemy.

An enemy that is invisible.

An enemy that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

And an enemy that is still around us waiting to strike.

Seventy five years later,

new generations of Gibraltarians

are called upon to make sacrifices also.

Sacrifices for the common good.

Because we are not out of the woods yet.

So do us proud.

As our forefathers did us proud.


An exhibition about VE day would have opened this week.

It had to be postponed.


the Archivist and his team

have prepared a virtual exhibition on-line.

This is a prelude to the event later in the year.

You will be able to visit it on your computer screen.

The compilation is an 18 minute long slide show.

It covers the six sections of the exhibition.

The Gathering Storm.

Home Front Defences.

Underground City and Hospital.

The Gibraltar Defence Force.

Gibraltar Under Enemy Attack, and

Victory in Europe, 1945.

The Government had planned to do more for VE day.

But for now,

this will be a fitting tribute

to all those who lost their lives in the cause of freedom;


to those who were evacuated; and

to those who stood ready to defend this Rock.

Once again thank you to Anthony Pitaluga

And to his team

for this lockdown initiative.

The virtual exhibition can be viewed on


Now the update from A&E and the latest test data.

Remember that anyone with the symptoms of COVID-19 should call 111 first.

In the last 24 hours there were a total of 46 attendances at A&E.

Four of them had COVID symptoms.

All four were swabbed.

There were no admissions to the COVID Ward.

And no admissions to the COVID CCU.

The latest data is as follows:

Total swabs 3962

Results pending 572

Results received 3390

Confirmed Cases 146

Active Cases 3

Recovered Cases 143

The three active cases are at home.


The grand total of 3962 tests so far is some 12.4% of the population.

In terms of tests done per capita (million),

Gibraltar is now ranked number 6 in the world.

And remains in the global top ten.


Having given the latest figures,

I now want to share a few thoughts

about the border.

Because this is our main point of entry.

And the virus could also come in through there.

Lockdown has eased in both Gibraltar and in Spain.

We have opened our shops,

self-contained construction sites,

and other sectors of the economy.

This means that more people now cross into Gibraltar.

Monday was the first full working day.

The figures show that 3901 persons crossed into Gibraltar.

This compares with 3075 on Monday of last week.

An increase of 826 persons or some 27%.

The figures for this working week

from Monday to Thursday show that a total of

17477 persons crossed the border.

This compares with 11898 last week.

These numbers are up by 5579,

or 1394 more people a day.

The numbers have increased over the week.

But they are still very low when compared to the same period last year,

when over a quarter of a million people (254,715) people crossed into Gibraltar.

As you know,

a thermal imaging scanner is being tested at the border.

This automatically reads the temperature of those who come in.

It will emit a warning when there is a temperature spike.

This will give some peace of mind.

In addition to this,

the pandemic continues its slow retreat in Andalucia

and in Cadiz which is the province next door.

The Campo has reported

a total of 278 confirmed cases of COVID-19

since the pandemic begun.

And a total of 32 deaths.

Some 80 cases remain active.

The worst hit has been Algeciras

with 171 confirmed cases and 18 deaths;

La Linea has reported 31 cases and 1 death;

26 cases in Los Barrios and 6 deaths;

21 in Tarifa with 5 deaths;

19 in San Roque with 1 death;

10 in Jimena with 1 death; and

zero in Castellar and Tesorillo.

The situation next door

can have an immediate impact on what happens here.

So we will continue to keep a close eye going forward.


There is no vaccine for COVID-19.

And there is no cure.

So we have to rely on other measures.

We can only kill the virus by stopping its spread.

To do that we must starve it of victims.

You can help.

By following our advice.

By staying at home.

By implementing social distancing.

And by self-isolating when required.

The strategy now is to test, track and isolate.

And to use aggressive contact tracing.

A Contact Tracing Bureau has been established.

And a new Public Health COVID-19 screening facility is being set up at the University.

Administrative staff at Nightingale have been redeployed to the Contact Tracing Team.

And on Wednesday 30 staff members were trained.

Case Management software is being reviewed.

We are told that this should be completed shortly.

Facilities staff at Nightingale are helping too.

They will support the Contact Tracing Bureau team from 8am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

There are plans for further staff training this week.

Gibraltar continues to pull together.

As I said,

the University have made their laboratory available to Public Health Gibraltar.

This is part of a strategy to deliver

hundreds of screening tests a day,

with a lab turnaround of 4 hours or less.

The facility is being prepared over the weekend.


I would like to say a word about the contact tracing App itself.

You will have heard the Chief Minister explain that there are two competing systems.

The Government and the GHA have been in touch with the developers of both.

The first is being produced by NHSX

which is the technological arm of the NHS.

This App will store data centrally.

A fact which has raised privacy concerns.

It is currently being tested on the Isle of Wight.

The second App is being developed by Apple.

This App will not store data centrally.

Your data will be stored on your phone.

The mechanics are expected to be similar.

Your phone will alert you if you have been in contact with someone who reports symptoms of COVID-19.

Those who have been in close contact

will then be expected to self-isolate.

The duration of this self-isolation depends on the outcome of the test.

This week the Government has spoken to NHSX.

We have also spoken to the Apple developers.

Spain and other EU countries intend to use the apple system.

The data here, as I said, is stored on your phone.

This means that there are no privacy issues.


Moving on,

the number of Gibraltar residents stranded abroad has now dropped to 38.

This follows the return of 24 from Morocco yesterday.

And the return of 1 more from the United States, via Heathrow.

A new case has also been notified.

This is one Philippine national resident in Gibraltar who is presently stranded there.

The other remaining cases

are 9 in India,

1 in South Africa and

27 more in Morocco.


Finally, I want to say a few words about the "Golden Hour" scheme.

The feedback from users is very positive.

That popularity is reflected in the numbers.

The figures show that:

219 people used the scheme on day one;

245 on day two;

242 on day three, this Monday;

270 on Tuesday;

326 on Wednesday;

And 218 yesterday Thursday.

The daily average is 253 persons.

Camp Bay remains the most popular area (608).

Followed by Commonwealth Park (470).

Then Eastern Beach (400).

And last Victoria Stadium (42).

The Government is delighted that the scheme is working well.

And that many of our over 70s have decided to exercise in a sheltered environment.

Today is a Bank Holiday so there is no "Golden Hour".

And so,

the public health advice is that

as we loosen lockdown

we need to be even more careful.

It is important to follow the rules.


the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is low.

But we still cannot let down our guard.

Other countries have also won the first round.

Singapore dealt with it very effectively.

But now they have highest number of cases in South East Asia.

Places like Iceland, South Korea and Japan

managed to control the first wave of the virus.

They are now bracing themselves for a possible second.

This is why we are being cautious.

Your safety,

your security and

your protection is

both our legal and our moral duty.

And we will continue to act on Public Health advice.

They are the experts.

But you have to play your part too.

We cannot throw away the good work done so far.

None of us want so many rules.

None of us want so many restrictions.

But all of us want to defeat COVID-19.

For that to happen,

we need to work together.

And to pull in the same direction.

We need to remain disciplined.

We need to follow the rules.

And we will defeat the virus.


Before passing on to CBF, let me repeat our public health message once again.

  1. Listen and act on the advice of our public health experts.
  1. When you sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue and then bin it.
  1. Wash your hands regularly for at least twenty seconds.
  1. Do not visit anyone over 70.
  1. If you are over 70 or vulnerable please stay at home.
  1. Maintain social distancing.
  1. Do not mix with other households.
  1. If you need COVID medical advice call 111.
  1. For non-COVID medical issues call 20072266.
  1. If you have any other question call 200 41818.
  1. And for emergencies, call 190 or 199 as usual.
  1. Stay home, Stay safe.

I now pass you on to CBF.

Any questions.

  • Tomorrow my colleague the

Minister for Civil Contingencies Samantha Sacramento


The Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police Ian McGrail

Will be here to address you and answer questions.

  • Remember – Follow Public Health advice.


Deputy Chief Minister thank you, and my thanks to the Government of Gibraltar for once again inviting me to join your daily press conference on this special Bank Holiday weekend; where we have seen nations and peoples come together on the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. Not, as originally planned, with crowds on the streets and great parties, but as families and as individuals, remembering the sacrifices of a previous generation that gave us the opportunities and freedoms that we enjoy today.

Yesterday we saw military personnel from all three Services here in Gibraltar mark the 75th Anniversary in their own way. 

We saw musicians from our Regiment, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, out and about across the Rock. They took the opportunity to entertain the residents of Hillside, Ocean Views and Mount Alvernia as well as serenade and salute our healthcare workers at St Bernard's. They also played from the top of the North Face at Rock Gun and from the roof of the Moorish Castle – both symbols, in their own way, of Gibraltar's identity and history. A fitting musical display and tribute at a time where other events have not been possible.

I know that it was particularly important to the Regiment that they found a way, despite or maybe because of the current challenges, to mark the day. For as we know, this is the week that in 1939, saw their formation as the Gibraltar Defence Force. But yesterday was also the day, in 2016, that saw the senseless and unjustified death of Matthew Boyd, a soldier of the Regiment. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to him, his family, his colleagues and friends, at this time. But we also remember all those who chose to serve, in whatever guise, past, present and future, acknowledging, now more than ever, that not all super heroes wear capes.

The Royal Gibraltar Regiment, along with all in British Forces Gibraltar, continue to support, where requested, the Government of Gibraltar's response to COVID-19. My medical staff, Military and Civilian, have been working alongside the GHA, just as in the UK their colleagues have been working alongside the NHS. They continue to provide advice and support where appropriate; they are contributing additional capacity to the Ambulance crews where needed; and, in the future, they will be ready to add resilience to the contact tracing teams that will be so important as we transition out of lock down. 

Of course elsewhere across British Forces Gibraltar many others continue to contribute to the safety and prosperity of the Rock. 

The Gibraltar Defence Police are working alongside colleagues in the Royal Gibraltar Police, HM Customs Gibraltar and the Border and Coastguard Agency to ensure that all in Gibraltar remain safe on land and on the sea.

The staff of RAF Gibraltar, including those in Air Traffic Control, the Met Office, the Airport Fire and Rescue Service, and the many others elements that, combined, continue to facilitate civilian and military use of the airfield, thus maintaining our air link to the UK and further afield.

And, as Gibraltar transitions on its journey to 'Unlock the Rock', I am confident that all in British Forces Gibraltar will continue to play their part through the challenges, but equally the opportunities, to come.

Thank you.