Local Daily News 14th January

The Ministry of Health and pharmacies reach an agreement so that the patient does not have to pay to report a positive test

Pharmacies have been given the green light to notify the Ministry of Health of positive cases of coronavirus that they detect through antigen tests at no extra cost. The Associations of Pharmacists and the Ministry of Health reached an agreement so that the service may be provided in the Valencian Community without the citizen being the one to pay because the positive result is registered in the official databases. Adherence to this program by pharmacy offices is voluntary and will not entail any cost to the public or to pharmaceutical establishments. The Ministry of Health will compensate the cost of the validation and registration of cases by pharmacies, as highlighted by the department of Ana Barceló.

“This collaboration between the Ministry and the pharmacies will help us to identify the cases, carry out a better follow-up and decongest the Primary Care centres,” said the Minister of Health, Ana Barceló. “In addition, there will be no cost for people who come to undergo the test or for pharmacies,” he added.

The program is aimed at people with symptoms compatible with covid. The test will be purchased at the pharmacy offices and the citizen will take the test in person at the establishment.

In the case of testing positive, the pharmacy will communicate the result to the Ministry of  Health and, from the epidemiological surveillance system, the cases can be followed up without the need for the patient to request an appointment and go to a health centre to confirm the result.

In addition, through the website of the Ministry, the patient may also request sick leave, which will be granted simultaneously with discharge for seven days later. In these cases, through the sanitary inspection, the withdrawal report will be communicated to the INSS and from this body, directly to the companies.

In this way, the activity of health centres is decongested in two ways. Both in what refers to the carrying out of tests, as in the processing of work registrations and cancellations.

The registration of personal data by the pharmacy will be done provided that the person who undergoes the self-test has given their consent.

The "tecnohito" on the Avenida del Mediterráneo in Benidorm reaches its maximum height

A large iron skeleton six stories high – this is Benidorm’s “tecnohito”, a singular element that is being installed in the recently remodelled Avenida del Mediterráneo and which will be the final part of a work that has lasted more than two years. This structure of more than 18 meters high reached its “summit”, its maximum height, on Thursday after precision work to weld all its parts.

Machineries and operators work to finish off the main structure of this tower. In other words, the 25-ton body that will have to support the screens that will be the “final touch” of this element whose name still sounds unknown among residents and tourists. The works to install this “technohito” began after the December bank holiday weekend and, since then, a part of the Mediterranean avenue and the Plaza de la Hispanidad remain closed to traffic for safety in view of the works that are being carried out.

But what is a “technohito” and why does it arouse so much expectation? No one knows what the structure that is being installed in this place of the so-called Triangular square is for, although the work to assemble it attracts the attention of those who circulate or walk nearby. And its striking name translates into a tower covered with LED lighting and a huge circular screen, from which multimedia content can be projected, information of interest to residents and tourists can be given, or events and other activities organized by the City Council can be advertised, among other activities. Municipal sources clarified that in the upper part there will be a kind of “viewpoint” but it will not be open to the public. A structure that is added to the one that exists only a few meters away and that was called “techno-stop”, a name that also still sounds unknown.

This Thursday, after intense work, the last piece of the main structure was placed with great care and with the help of a 90-ton crane with a 60-meter “arm” to lift the pieces. It was a section of the spiral staircase that runs through the interior of the tower and that will serve to maintain it when it is in operation. In total, this structure has been formed with a dozen large pieces welded together in height. For this, three operators carry out a meticulous job to put each one of them together and reinforce the skeleton. Raising the last piece aroused the curiosity of those who walked around the area who sat or stopped to watch the process with their mobiles in hand to record the transfer of the piece.

Thus, the maximum height has already been reached, more than 18 meters above ground level. A fine finish will be the one that crowns the “summit”. But there is still a process ahead. A “second skin” will be added to this part of the completed tower, which will make the width of the tower equal to the top of the protruding platform. And above it, the “final skin”: screens and lighting.

The remodelling work on Avenida del Mediterráneo is practically finished. The auction will be this “technohito” whose forecast is that it will be completely finished, together with the small questions still pending from the rest of the street, on the 28th of February. Because this is the deadline for the construction company to finish the work on the entire avenue. This is how the City Council marked it when in October it approved an extension. In fact, the execution period of this project of more than 11 million euros was 11 months and began on the 10th of November, 2018.

In March 2020, just before the state of alarm began, after 17 months of work, the company submitted a request to modify the contract and the initial budget (of 9.5 million) was raised by an additional 2 million. Thus, the 5th of March, 2021 was established as the deadline to complete the works but an extension was requested until February of this year.

This “milestone” will also serve to promote tourism in the city and aims to become an attraction for visitors as seen in other parts of the world such as London or New York. But in addition, it is being studied that this structure can be the epicentre of important events, such as New Year’s Eve.

Spain approves booster Covid-19 shots for over-18 population

Spain’s Public Health Commission, which is made up of the central Health Ministry and the country’s regions, has decided to roll out a third Covid-19 vaccine dose to the entire population aged over 18 in a bid to combat the ongoing sixth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. That was decided in a meeting held yesterday morning, and later announced by Health Minister Carolina Darias.

In December of last year, the Commission opted to offer the booster shots to the 40 to 59 age group, having already made them available to older citizens. Today’s move means that the 18 to 39 group are now included in the campaign.

The ministry and the regions also agreed to “reduce the interval” between the last dose and the booster shot “from the six months established to five months,” Darias announced, calling on people of all ages to get their shots because “vaccines save lives.”

More than 12 million residents of Spain are aged between 12 and 39 years old, although a small number of this group have already received their booster shots given that they belong to collectives such as healthcare personnel.

During the campaign in Spain, people in their 20s and 30s have been most resistant to getting vaccinated. According to data from the Health Ministry released on Wednesday, one in every five people in these age groups has opted not to get vaccinated until now, in contrast to those in their 40s, 88.5% of whom are fully vaccinated, and including the younger 12 to 19 age group, where the figure is 87.2%.

The vaccination of people in their 30s began at the end of June and the beginning of July, depending on the region, and for the 20-29 group a month later. This means that for the first people in these age ranges who have been vaccinated, five months have passed since the second dose and they can receive the third, according to the new strategy agreed this Thursday. This is the time frame set for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines that were administered to practically everyone in these age groups.

The booster shots will also be one of these two vaccines, although according to the strategy they will not necessarily be the same as that given the first time around.

After today’s decision, the number of people eligible for the third dose in Spain will rise to 39.1 million, which is 82.5% of the total population of Spain. More than three million youngsters aged between 12 and 17 will remain outside of the booster campaign for now, while children aged five to 11 are currently in the process of receiving their first dose across the country. No Covid-19 vaccines have yet been approved for children under five.

While the administration of the booster shots is moving along at a decent pace – a million people have had theirs in the last week and more than 85% of the over-60s already have had one – Spain has been somewhat left behind compared to neighbouring countries, something that has also happened in Portugal. This is in contrast to the progress made during the initial vaccination campaign, when the two countries on the Iberian peninsula were at the top of the tables in the EU.

The reason for this is that in Spain it took longer to start administering the third dose to the under-60s. France and Germany, for example, began to do so in November for all over-18s.

According to the Our World in Data website, Spain administered 35 booster shots for every 100 inhabitants last Tuesday. This figure is considerably lower than Denmark’s 55, Belgium’s 46, Germany’s 44, Italy’s 40 and France’s 39. And this is despite the fact that the latter countries have considerably bigger groups of the population who are anti-vaccination than Spain does.

Orihuela cancels its parking meters without a date until the regulatory parking ordinance (ORA) is awarded

Orihuela’s parking meters have been turned off since yesterday, when Mayor Emilio Bascuñana decreed the temporary cancellation of the rate for parking vehicles on public roads in the municipality, the so-called blue zone, until the service is awarded to a new company. The current contract with the merchant Setex Aparki, for an annual fee of 200,000 euros, was signed on the 11th of January, 2016. With a duration of four years, it can be extended for up to two more years, which occurred in January and December of 2020, the concession ended on the 12th, “as evidenced by the legal reports of the Secretariat that appear in the file”, indicates the decree, which adds that “the Department of Contracting has issued instructions in order to expedite the formalities of a new tender procedure”.

The text also reveals that the Local Police will be ordered to seal the parking meters “immediately in order to make the cancellation effective.” They were also sealed in November 2015, when the previous contract was finalized. Then, the specifications were published in September, although it did not reach the Governing Board until the end of December.

Councillor Rafael Almagro (PP) states that Infrastructure, in the hands of Ciudadanos, is the council responsible for this contract. In his opinion, it is unprecedented that the adjudication has not been prepared so as not to reach this point. The orange formation has tried in extremis to make one more extension, something that the reports from the Secretariat and Intervention have rejected. For this reason, Almagro dismisses this manoeuvre as “ridiculous” and does not hesitate to criticize this “lack of interest” on the part of his partner in government. In addition, he warns that the suspension is sine die, since “a contract of this complexity can take several months and even a whole year.”

For his part, the socialist councillor Luis Quesada maintains that “Orihuela had never been so abandoned; it is a city without direction”. In his opinion, “the lack of control in municipal management is affecting all areas.” In addition, he recalls that the PSOE in August warned that it was going to be late to tender the ORA contract. Even, he adds, “a year ago, in plenary session, the Councillor for Infrastructure accused us of being experts in creating alarm for something that was not going to happen, since in January 2022 the new contract would be in operation.” Now, he wonders if Ángel Noguera is going to give explanations and if he is going to resign because of “his ineffectiveness.”

Quesada defines it as “a new botch”, because “it is unfortunate that knowing that this contract had exhausted all the extensions they have not even been able to have the documentation ready for the tender. This shows the chaos of management made by PP and Ciudadanos ». His group does not rule out requesting an appearance in the plenary session of the mayors of Infrastructure, Ángel Noguera, and Contracting, Sabina Goretti Galindo.

In addition to 2015, there was more recently a similar situation in which parking meters were out of service, albeit for other reasons. It was in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. After several days of controversy and multiple requests by citizens, the City Council suspended the payment of the ORA for the duration of the state of alarm, thus acceding to a growing demand from the population.

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