Gibraltar, a place that has more than 99% of its population vaccinated, has called off official Christmas celebrations amid a “drastic rise” in COVID-19 cases.
Often referred to as “the most vaccinated place on earth,” the British-owned territory, which is situated on the southernmost tip of the Iberian peninsula, has witnessed the number of COVID-19 cases consistently rise throughout the fall months, leaving many questioning the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Last Friday, after witnessing what the government described as an “exponential” rise in COVID-19 cases, authorities strongly advised its citizens against holding any kind of Christmas party–even private family gatherings.
In the past seven days, Gibraltar–a territory with just 33,0000 inhabitants–saw an average of 56 cases per day, compared to under 10 per day in September. According to official data, five people are currently hospitalized due to the virus, one of whom is in intensive care, while 440 remain in isolation.
“Given the exponential rise in the number of cases, the government for example intends to cancel a number of its own functions including official Christmas parties, official receptions, and similar gatherings,” the government said in a statement.
“The public, at this stage, is ultimately called upon to exercise their own judgment in this respect bearing in mind the current advice given.”
Despite the escalating number of COVID-19 cases, however, Gibraltar hasn’t recorded a virus-related death since February.
The situation in Gibraltar isn’t unique. Other territories with exceptionally high vaccination rates like Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Singapore, and Israel are also presently witnessing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases.
Iceland, which also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world (81.5%), recently tightened measures to combat the spread of the virus. Last week, amid a “sharp rise in domestic cases,” the government imposed mask-wearing requirements, social distancing measures, curfews on restaurants and bars, and set limitations on private and in public gatherings.
“Due to the situation, the National Hospital’s services have been interrupted, and they’re facing a staff shortage,” the chief epidemiologist’s memorandum to the minister of health stated. “The same goes for other healthcare institutions.”