Gibraltar plans to test entire population for Covid-19 antibodies

Casemates Square, Gibraltar.
Casemates Square, Gibraltar. / SUR
  • It is possible that some people had coronavirus without knowing it because they suffered very mild symptoms and were not tested

The Gibraltar government looks set to become the first in the world to test its entire community for antibodies to Covid-19.

The testing will be carried out by consent but the greater the number of people who agree to the simple blood test, the more information the authorities will have about the spread and extent of the virus in Gibraltar and this will assist them in planning for any similar situations which could arise in the future.

Earlier this week, Acting Medical Director Dr Krishna Rawal said 35,000 tests have been ordered and will be delivered in the next few weeks. He indicated that as many as 500 people could be tested in a single day, although it would be an enormous task.

The antibody test can show whether somebody has had the virus, bearing in mind that many people will have suffered very slight symptoms and been unaware that they were Covid-19 positive.

The tests may also help the authorities to know when coronavirus first appeared in Gibraltar, as some people suffered what appeared to be an extremely unusual type of flu as far back as December, from which it took ages to recover and there is speculation that these could have been the first, unrecognised cases of the virus.

This week the Gibraltar government has also published its Unlock the Rock document, giving details of the phased easing of restrictions.