Testing for COVID-19
What do we mean by testing?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are various methods that you may see being utilised to ascertain whether you may be at risk of infection. Rapid measures include checks for symptoms including fever (temperature) scanning on entry to buildings. More thorough testing involves taking samples/ swabs to test for infection.
What methods will be utilised as we exit lock-down?
In order to facilitate the loosening of regulations/ moving away from lock-down, a more aggressive strategy is required with regards to the isolation of individuals who test positive. In addition to testing people with symptoms of COVID-19, we will test people who work in close proximity to a vulnerable group (for example healthcare workers and carers) on a regular basis.
Every individual identified as positive will be contacted and asked to isolate for 10 days. The same individual will be asked who they have been in contact with, and some may be required to self-isolate* (*this will be directed by the public health team).
You can read more about data protection and your privacy here.
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is a targeted method for breaking chain of transmission from one person to another and a fundamental part of outbreak control used by public health professionals. Contact tracing helps to control the ‘R’ number of a virus.
When a person tests positive for COVID-19 they are contacted, and as part of the interview process they are asked to identify anyone who has had close contact with them. During the time they are considered to be infectious (as stipulated by the Public Health team), a close contact will have:
- come from the same household
- been within 2 metres of the infected person for 15 minutes or more
- come into direct contact with infected fluids (from a cough, sneeze or blood sample etc .)
Those identified as close contacts will be contacted immediately.
- Close contacts (including household contacts) who are fully vaccinated or have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days and are over 16 years old will not need to self-isolate, unless told otherwise by the CTB. Those who work in close proximity to vulnerable groups should inform the CTB and their employers to allow risk-assessment on an individual basis.
- Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated and have not had COVID-19 within the last 90 days, and are over 18 years old need to self-isolate for 10 days.
This 10-day isolation period covers the potential incubation period for COVID-19.
- Close contacts who are under the age of 18 and are in full time education in Gibraltar do not need to self-isolate whether they are fully vaccinated or not. They will not need to wear a mask in school. There is epidemiological evidence that schools and college are not major vectors for COVID-19 transmission at present. This decision has been taken under the advice of the Director of Public Health and with the agreement of Education professionals that the need to avoid further disruption to pupils’ education outweighs the potential for transmission in educational settings.
Please respect the advice of the Contact Tracing Bureau (CTB).
The CTB carry out risk assessments to determine whether isolation is necessary; they will advise whether you need to self isolate or not, this advice will vary from case to case.
For young adults under 18 years of age, the CTB will make contact by phone (wherever possible) and ask for the parent or guardian’s permission to continue the call.
What is meant by incubation period?
Why is this important?
The self-isolation period for those required to home isolate is 10 days – by which time most people will have developed symptoms if they have become infected. Adherence to home isolation is very important in order to control viral spread, particularly as we begin to relax lock-down measures.
Those who are close contacts that have been told they do not need to self-isolate will be instructed to:
• Wear a mask when out in public and at work
• Minimise social contacts, especially with vulnerable or unvaccinated people
• Call 111, take a test and self-isolate immediately if symptoms of COVID-19 develop
Click here for more information on close contacts.
If a close contact becomes unwell during their isolation period, they should call 111 for further public health advice.