Local Daily News 15th January

The province exceeds 7,000 infections for the second consecutive day and adds two more deaths

The second consecutive day with more than 7,000 infections in a single day and with a sixth wave that pulverizes any record of new cases seen until. The Ministry of Health has notified 7,653 new positives in the province this Friday, a figure similar to that of Thursday when 7,474 new infections were reported. Both represent the highest number of cases in a single day of the entire pandemic and of the current coronavirus wave. Alicante also adds two new deaths in 24 hours, which places the total number of deaths at 3,178.

The Ministry of Universal Health and Public Health has notified a total of 22,081 new cases of coronavirus confirmed by PCR test or through antigen tests in the Valencian Community this Friday. With this update, the total number of positives stands at 816,667 people. The new cases by province are 4,545 in Castellón (97,686 in total), 7,653 in Alicante (296,170) and 9,883 in Valencia (422,809). The total number of unassigned cases remains at 2.

The Ministry of Health has reported 10 deaths from coronavirus since the last update in the Valencian Community: 5 women, between 36 and 93 years old, and 5 men, between 51 and 88 years old. These are people who died over the last week and were notified Thursday. The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic amounts to 8,280: 936 in the province of Castellón, 3,178 in Alicante and 4,166 in Valencia.

As for the situation in Alicante hospitals, the pressure has dropped slightly this Friday, although it is still high. Thus, the health centres of the province have 515 people admitted at the moment, 23 fewer than a day before; of them, 61 are in the ICU, 7 less than on Thursday. In the Valencian Community, hospitals currently have 1,464 people admitted, 189 of them in the ICU: 222 in the province of Castellón, 25 in the ICU; and 727 in the province of Valencia, 103 in the ICU; in addition to those of Alicante.

A total of 4,265,413 people already have the complete immunization schedule (two doses for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca; Janssen’s single dose, and one dose of any vaccine in people with a history of having had COVID) in the Valencian Community. In total, 10,042,110 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been inoculated.

On the other hand, 16,415 discharges of patients with coronavirus have been registered. In this way, the number of people who have overcome the disease since the pandemic began in the Valencian Community amounts to 674,246 people. By province, registrations are distributed as follows: 75,217 in Castellón, 240,239 in Alicante and 358,734 in Valencia. The total of unassigned registrations remains at 56. According to the registered data, there are currently 145,582 active cases, which represents 17.58% of the total positives.

Almoradí approves budgets of 12.8 million euros

The Almoradí government team, has approved in an extraordinary plenary session the budgets for 2022, amounting to 12.8 million euros, “the highest of the decade”, according to the statement of the townhall.

These accounts consolidate the creation of two new positions in the Local Police and an increase of 225,000 euros in the Department of Citizen Security, an item that adds to the 170,000 euros for the installation of surveillance cameras.

The debate on the part of the opposition has focused precisely on this point, which has voted against the budgets. Jaime Pérez, spokesman for the PSOE, has stated that the allocation in this matter drops from 1.8 million to 1.7, “despite the fact that there is a deficit of troops that accumulates numerous complaints and claims by citizens.”

Along the same lines, Almudena Albentosa, spokesperson for Ciudadanos, has lamented that no improvements are being considered to put an end to “the disastrous conditions that our Local Police have due to the lack of personnel and means that force us to have closed police units.”

In this sense, she has emphasized the “feelings of the staff in the face of the passivity of the government team.” To the point that on the 22nd of December they communicated in writing their decision not to perform voluntary overtime.

As an example of the situation, she has highlighted that the municipality, with 21,500 inhabitants, has 19 operational police officers, while in 2003 there were 20 for a population of 14,000 people.

“An analysis must be carried out to redirect spending and strengthen some items such as citizen security, with more agents,” Councilor José Girona (Contigo) clarified, at the same time that he has shown his support for “this budget that serves to consolidate our agreement and solve the questions of personnel and current expenses”.

The items allocated to employment workshops for the most vulnerable people increased by 31,000 euros compared to the previous year’s budget, an item that, according to the socialist group, should have been further strengthened, “as well as social action, which has only been increased by 8,000 euros.” Meanwhile, Pérez added, Fiestas will have 47,000 euros more: “It is not common sense with the basic needs that are not covered.”

The government team has stressed that aid to university students increases by 33%. In addition, an item of 100,000 euros is maintained to help the self-employed and small entrepreneurs and another 100,000 euros for those affected by the DANA.

Pérez has also influenced that Development decreases and Tourism is dedicated “a derisory item of 600 euros”. Regarding the creation of Economic Development, which was created as part of the governance agreement that PP and Contigo reached in June, he has warned that it is “a hoax that has served no purpose.”

Both PP and Contigo have highlighted that these new budgets increase the Street Cleaning item by 230,000 euros and increase the allocation of the Department of Collection and Urban Waste and Street Cleaning by 340,000 euros in just seven months (when the pact was signed), and In Parks and Gardens, the increase of 260,000 euros is consolidated compared to the budget with which they began to work in this mandate.

In total 12.8 million, 250,000 euros more than the previous year. “We are at a standstill. We will have to consider raising taxes if we want to move forward,” concluded Pérez.


The Cultural Centre of Benidorm spends another three months with works finished but without the project being delivered

It is one of the most emblematic infrastructures of Benidorm but its construction could go down in history as synonymous with endless. The Benidorm Cultural Centre has already accumulated three months with the bulk of the works of the first phase finished, but it has still not been delivered to the City Council so that it can start using it. The reason for the new delay, problems in the contracting of definitive water and electricity supplies, which have to be transferred to the City Council, but the contracts remain unfulfilled.

After several starts and stoppages since the beginning of its construction in 2008, 2021 should finally be the year of the inauguration of the municipal Conservatories of Music and Dance, as well as the smaller auditorium, with capacity for 450 seats – less of the 560 initially planned – which were contemplated in the first phase of the Cultural Centre, in which the Generalitat has invested 12.7 million, in addition to the 24 that had already been invested in the structure of the property. First it should have been in May; later, throughout the summer; and finally in October, but it never was. Different problems and delays have forced the SPTCV to postpone the delivery of the work. And this despite the fact that, as stated last October by its general manager, Antonio Rodes, it has been completely completed since the 30th of September.

Sources of this public company explained that all the small parts that were pending are finished, in the absence of the change in the ownership of the supplies so that, once executed, it can be checked that the entire installation works correctly. Likewise, they indicated that, once this procedure is completed, said review could be done within a period of about fifteen days, for which they trusted that the situation will begin to be resolved “from next week.”

Meanwhile, the City Council has already been awarded the purchase of all the instruments and furniture that it will need to install in the property once it is delivered, an acquisition in which it has invested about 380,000 euros and which was contracted in four different lots. From the local government they indicated that they are waiting for the Generalitat to finally deliver the building to them and lamented another new delay on the deadlines.

Spain sets €2.94 price cap on coronavirus antigen tests

Antigen tests for coronavirus will have a maximum retail sale price of €2.94 in Spain. The new limit brings the country closer to those that allow supermarkets to sell these home kits, such as Germany or Portugal. But despite calls by opposition parties and consumer groups for Spain to do the same, antigen tests will still only be available in pharmacies.

The price cap was agreed to on Thursday by the Inter-ministerial Committee of Medicine Prices (CIPM), although it will not go into effect until today, Saturday, a day after its expected publication in the Official State Gazette (BOE).

The Spanish government had been planning to set a limit on test prices after a surge in infections triggered a spike in demand over the Christmas holidays, when pharmacies ran out of stock and price tags for a single test reached as much as €10 or €12 in some cases. Prices have dropped considerably since then, to around €5.

In order to determine what the upper price limit should be, the committee analysed the sale prices of pharmacy distributors, the usual profit margin of healthcare products, and retail prices for consumers both in Spain and neighbouring countries. “The main goal was to set a price as affordable as possible while finding a balance so that the product will be available through pharmaceutical channels,” said Health Minister Carolina Darias, adding it is unlikely that Spain will experience another shortage of tests despite the high transmission figures fuelled by the omicron variant.

Pharmaceutical industry leaders applauded the government’s decision to keep antigen tests from being sold outside pharmacies. “Even though the price limit means that most pharmacies will sell the tests at below their acquisition cost, pharmacists have always prioritized the health of their patients,” said Jesús Aguilar, president of the General Council of Pharmacy Associations (CGCOF).

Price caps on tests have already been introduced in some other European countries. France has set a ceiling of €6.01. In Portugal, the limit is 15% over the cost price. Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy have not established a maximum price.

But in some of these countries, consumers can choose to buy their tests at a supermarket, where prices are cheaper than at pharmacies. In Germany, a box containing five antigen tests costs €10.99 at Lidl supermarkets. That is €2.20 per test. And in France, Carrefour superstores are selling packs of five for €9.75, which comes out to €1.95 per test. In Portugal, Mercadona (a Spanish supermarket chain) offers antigen tests for €2.10 each.

On Wednesday, testimony from a Portuguese pharmacy employee went viral on Twitter. In a video interview, she explained that many Spaniards are crossing the border to buy antigen tests in Portugal, especially at supermarkets.

There is no single reason to explain why antigen tests have until now been significantly more expensive in Spain than they are in Portugal, France or in the United Kingdom, where it is possible to order free packs in certain circumstances.

“It’s a free market, it depends on a lot of factors,” said a spokesperson for the Federation of Pharmaceutical Distributors (Fedifar). This source said that those countries have “very well established” distribution channels for antigen tests, more so than in Spain. “These countries had been selling antigen tests at pharmacies for months before Spain did [in July 2021] and they have more open channels with the main manufacturing country, China. That makes things easier.”

Jaume Pey, director general of the Association for Health Self-Care (ANEFP), offered another explanation. “In other countries the price is lower because they have their own manufacturers, like Germany for instance. That doesn’t happen in Spain,” he said.

For now, the Spanish government is not contemplating the possibility of letting supermarkets sell antigen tests. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, of the Socialist Party (PSOE), mentioned the issue on Tuesday in an interview with the Cadena SER radio network. “I have read criticism about the fact that antigen tests are not being sold at supermarkets. Spain has chosen pharmacies to support the antigen test strategy,” he said.

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