Local Daily News 15th September

The infection rate of coronavirus among young people plummets in the past week

Young people have been the centre of many conversations during the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic this summer, but the progress in the vaccination campaign and the positive effect of the restrictions have meant that the cumulative incidence of coronavirus (cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days) in the youngest groups has fallen drastically in the past week.

However, according to data from the Ministry of Health, at this time the spread of the virus in the group of children under 11 years of age, as well as among adolescents between 12 and 19 years of age and among those in their twenties, is still higher than the average of the Valencian Community, which is at 75.85 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The age group in which this reduction in cases has been most noted is that of adolescents between 12 and 19 years of age. A week ago the situation of this age group was of extreme risk, with an infection rate of 313 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. At the moment, the incidence stands at 119 cases. Among the twentysomethings it has also gone from 191 cases to 94 in just seven days, according to data from the ministry. Also among thirty-somethings the infection rate of the virus has been cut to 71 cases. A week ago it was 114 and even today the virus is spreading with greater intensity among the group aged 40 to 49 years old, where the cumulative incidence is 75 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The group with the lowest infection rate in the Valencian Community is currently in the 70 to 79-year-old group, with 43 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The rest of the older age groups are also below the average for the Valencian Community, specifically the incidence is 66 cases for the 50-year-old group, and 50 cases for the 60-year-old group. Among those over 80 years of age there is an incidence rate of 60 cases.

The vaccination of the youngest against coronavirus began this summer, in the middle of the fifth wave of the pandemic. The first to go through the allocated vaccination spaces were the thirty-somethings, who began to be summoned in mid-July, a few weeks before what was initially planned, due to the increase in infections. On the 25th of July the 20 to 29 year old group began receiving vaccinations, and in early August adolescents aged between 12 and 19 years old began to be summoned, the last population group for which the coronavirus vaccine is approved.

Along with vaccination, restrictive measures have caused the incidence among young people to plummet in the Valencian Community. Given the increase in covid cases, in July the Generalitat opted to implement a curfew in the municipalities where the incidence of covid was higher. Nightlife was also closed and the number of people who could get together was limited. Given the good progress of the pandemic in the Valencian Community, the Generalitat lifted a good amount of the restrictions last week, including the curfew. Giant steps, in the opinion of the experts, who warn that there is still a good part of the young people to be vaccinated. Specifically, among young people between 20 and 39 years old, there are 30% of people who only have one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, a figure that rises to 38% in the case of adolescents between 12 and 19 years old.

However, the Generalitat continues with its plans. These measures will continue until the 27th of September, when the Interdepartmental Commission will meet again after listening to the experts to decide whether to extend the restrictions that are currently in force, tighten them if there is an increase in cases, or relax them in the event that the evolution of the data is positive. The objective that President Ximo Puig has set is that the Valencian Community be free of restrictions by the 9th of October

A young woman has been rescued after falling off a cliff while taking a selfie up to a railing of Benidorm Castle

The craze for likes almost claimed another life this past Tuesday; this time, in Benidorm. A 26-year-old woman of Ukrainian origin was rescued after falling from a cliff on the Benidorm Castle, where she was perched to take a photo.

Although the causes of the accident had not initially been revealed, different eyewitnesses have confirmed that, apparently, the girl had climbed on one of the Castle’s railings to take a selfie with the Levante beach in the background when she lost her balance and fell down the cliff, hitting the rocks before reaching the sea.

The event took place just after six o’clock in the evening. The young woman was found alive and was rescued by members of the Town Hall’s Rescue and Lifeguard service, which is managed by the RA Benidorm company, despite the poor condition of the sea in this area. In fact, the lifeguards had put up the red flag that prohibits swimming, due to the strong waves.

A call to 112 alerted them of the accident. Immediately, a couple of lifeguards approached the area and, despite the difficulties faced, one of them managed to recover the girl’s body in a critical situation and put her on the RA Benidorm boat.

Subsequently, the boat was driven to the port area, in the vicinity of the Nautical Club, where an intervention tent had been set up.

In this place she was given the first medical assistance: initially by RA personnel and then by SAMU health personnel, who traveled to the place and managed to stabilize the victim before carrying out her transfer to the Alicante General Hospital due to the severity of the injuries she presented.

Municipal sources have indicated that, in addition to having been without a pulse for several minutes, the young woman also had symptoms of hypothermia and other injuries caused by her fall.

Apparently, the girl was at the castle with a friend, who along with the many tourists and neighbors who were walking through the Castell this afternoon had witnessed this sad accident.

British tourism already fills 16% of the hotel beds in Benidorm

The businesses expected it to be a more complicated month but, against all odds, the hotels in Benidorm and other destinations on the Costa Blanca ended last week with an average occupancy of over 70%. They did so, in part, thanks to a new upturn in tourism from the United Kingdom, which after a summer with hardly any presence in destinations along the Costa Blanca, adds two consecutive weeks of continuous growth and now represents 16% of all tourists staying in the tourist capital of the province, when until the end of August they barely made up 5%.

This Tuesday, the hotel management organization Hosbec has released the occupancy data corresponding to the week of the 6th of September to the 12th, a period that has nothing to do with what happened on the same dates in 2020. Then, hotel occupancy plummeted below 40% with more than half of the hotels closed, which had led the tourism sector to observe “with great uncertainty the start of this autumn season, once the school period has started and with family tourism heading back home”. This fear, however, has now turned to happiness after verifying that the data is very different to that of the previous September, although they are still far from what one would expect to see this month in a normal year, when occupancy exceeded an average of 90%.

Last week, Benidorm hotels managed to improve the average of the previous week and reach an occupancy of 71.2%, with peaks of up to 78% on weekends and there were even several establishments reaching full capacity. And this, despite the fact that the city has added around 3,000 hotel beds in recent days, due to the opening of several establishments. In fact, to date there are 97 hotels associated with Hosbec in operation and just over a hundred in total, which represents about 88% of hotels.

The star market in Benidorm was once again the national tourism market, which occupied 69.3% of the spaces in hotels. The statistics reflect that there are fewer and fewer Spaniards each week, while there is an increase in foreign visitors: the British exceeded 15.7% of total visitors, a figure below what we would see in a pre-pandemic scenario, but which represents the best record to date since March 2020. Visitors from Portugal (5.4%), Belgium (2.8%), The Netherlands (2.2%), and France (1%) also have a strong presence within hotels, which for this week has a forecasted occupancy of around 65%, although everything points to it being somewhat higher thanks to last-minute bookings.

Spain announces new measures to bring down soaring energy bills

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced Monday evening a series of measures aimed at bringing down the soaring cost of natural gas and electricity for consumers.

Spain’s wholesale power market, which sets the amount paid by the companies that supply electricity to households, has been recording record-high prices since the beginning of summer. On Monday, the cost reached €154.16 per megawatt-hour (MWh), the highest ever recorded, and more than triple the figure registered one year ago, when it was just €46.

According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), consumers’ electricity bills grew 7.8% in August from a month earlier, and 34.9% from August 2020.

The escalation of prices on the wholesale market has pressured the Spanish government – headed by a center-left coalition of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and junior partner Unidas Podemos – to take action to curb the cost of household energy bills.

Of Spain’s 27.5 million consumers, around 10.7 million are under a regulated electricity tariff called PVPC, which is indexed to the wholesale market and is usually cheaper than the non-regulated alternative. But households on the PVPC tariff are more exposed to the recent price rises, as consumption – one of the items paid when contracting the electricity supply in addition to other regulated costs – oscillates according to the market.

While the government has no control over the wholesale market – which is set by a daily auction – Sánchez told state broadcaster RTVE that he aims to limit the impact of these price rises with a new action plan that will be approved by the Spanish Cabinet on Tuesday.

The plan involves four fronts: structural reform to promote cleaner and cheaper energy, measures to protect the most vulnerable households, cuts on some taxes and redirecting some of the profits made by energy companies back to the consumer.

“There are energy companies that are making extraordinary profits right now. That is not acceptable to me, because they are profits that come from the evolution of energy prices,” Sánchez explained on Monday in a television interview with RTVE.

The Socialist leader also said the government will limit the price that consumers pay for natural gas in their homes. “We are going to take away these gains of energy companies, they can afford it, and redirect them to consumers […] to cap the cost of gas and also reduce electricity bills,” he added.

According to government sources, the Spanish Cabinet is expected to approve a temporary reduction in the excess gains obtained by power plants that are not affected by the rising market cost of gas yet benefit from it on the consumer bill, said government sources. A similar formula will be applied as the one seeking to limit windfall profits for hydro and nuclear plants that have no CO₂ emissions but gain from higher CO₂ prices. This latter initiative is already making its way through Congress, said the same sources.

The spike is due to the rising international prices of gas, which is used in combined cycle plants, as well as CO₂ emission rights, where carbon prices have been rising over the past week to €62/ton. Adding to this is a lack of wind, which has reduced the share of renewable energy in the mix and increased the share of combined cycle energy.

With respect to taxes, Sánchez said the current tariff of 5.11% on electricity will be reduced to 0.5%, the minimum allowed under regional legislation. This special tax is collected by the state and transferred to regional governments. If the tax cut is finally approved, the government will have to compensate the regions for the lost revenue.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the government also reduced the value-added tax (IVA) on electricity bills from 21% to 10% for consumers with up to 10 kilowatts of contracted power, in cases where the average monthly cost of a MWh exceeded €45, and suspended the 7% tax on energy generation – two measures that will be extended until the end of the year.

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