Amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, Gibraltar has canceled official Christmas events and “strongly” discouraged people from hosting private gatherings for four weeks. Gibraltar’s entire eligible population is vaccinated.
The government of Gibraltar recently announced that “official Christmas parties, official receptions and similar gatherings” have been canceled, and advised the public to avoid social events and parties for the next four weeks. Outdoor spaces are recommended over indoor ones, touching and hugging is discouraged, and mask wearing is advised.
“The drastic increase in the numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 in recent days is a stark reminder that the virus is still very prevalent in our community and that it is the responsibility of us all to take every reasonable precaution to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” Health Minister Samantha Sacramento said.
Gibraltar, a tiny British Overseas Territory sharing a land border with Spain, has seen an average of 56 Covid-19 cases per day over the last seven days, up from fewer than 10 per day in September. The rise in cases, described by the government as “exponential,” comes despite Gibraltar having the highest vaccination rate in the world.
More than 118% of Gibraltar’s population are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with this figure stretching beyond 100% due to doses given to Spaniards who cross the border to work or visit the territory every day. Masks are still required in shops and on public transport.
The initial vaccine campaign on the British outpost came to a conclusion in early spring 2021, with a large proportion of the population fully inoculated against Covid-19. It became one of the first places in Europe to reduce restrictions following a winter of lockdowns, in what was dubbed ‘Operation Freedom’.
Gibraltar is currently doling out booster doses to the over-40s, healthcare workers, and other “vulnerable groups,” and administering vaccines to children aged between five and 12.
Similarly well-vaccinated countries have also reported surges in Covid-19 infections recently. In Singapore, where 94% of the eligible population have been inoculated, cases and deaths soared to record highs at the end of October, and have since subsided slightly. In Ireland, where around 92% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, cases of Covid-19 and deaths from the virus have roughly doubled since August.
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