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Local Daily News 17th November

A network that exploited immigrants as day labourers has been dismantled in Albatera

The National Police of Elche, in collaboration with the Superior Headquarters of Murcia, has dismantled in Albatera a network dedicated to the labour exploitation of immigrants as day labourers in the fruit picking in the provinces of Alicante, Murcia and Almería. The network used a temporary work front company from Albatera to give the appearance of legality to the exploitation of foreign workers in an irregular situation, who were charged between 6,000 and 8,000 euros to provide them with contracts with which to regularise their stay in Spain.

In the operation, 24 people of different nationalities in Albatera and Murcia have been arrested, among which are those responsible for the plot, who took advantage of the situation of need and vulnerability of numerous immigrants in an irregular situation, who carried out working days of a minimum of ten hours.

The Police reported this Wednesday that those investigated are accused of crimes against the rights of workers, belonging to a criminal organisation, against the rights of foreign citizens, crimes against the Public Treasury and Social Security and document falsification.

The investigation began at the beginning of the year by the Unit against Immigration Networks and Document Falsities (UCRIF) of the Elche Police Station. The agents became aware of a network that exploited immigrants as day labourers in the fruit collection at different points in the provinces of Alicante, Murcia and Almería and began to carry out their inquiries.

Thus, they detected the actions of a criminal organisation that used a temporary work front company from Albatera to give the appearance of legality to the exploitation of irregular workers, taking advantage of their state of need.

Immigrants were subjected to marathon working hours and violating their most fundamental labour rights. The “modus operandi” used by the criminal network ranged from registering workers in an irregular situation, “hiring workers who did not carry out any type of work activity and were not even in national territory, to the change of identities between workers with in order to hire and benefit from Social Security benefits to those who were most interested”, according to the Police.

The main managers of the organisation charged between 6,000 and 8,000 euros to each immigrant that they fraudulently regularised through a network of companies with which they operated. Thanks to this, each worker benefited from access to different social benefits, such as unemployment or maternity benefits.

Those involved also allegedly defrauded Social Security, since they declared up to 85% less than the days quoted by contracted workers, who work days of a minimum of ten hours.

Once all those involved in the plot had been identified, the Elche National Police, in collaboration with the agents of Group IV of the UCRIF of the Superior Headquarters of Murcia, established separate devices in Albatera and Murcia for the location and interception of vans related to temporary work agency and used to transport irregular foreign workers.

The agents came to intercept up to nine vans of irregular workers, in which, among all the occupants, they were able to identify more than thirty foreigners in an irregular situation in Spain.

The National Police continues to carry out investigative efforts in order to locate more possible victims.

Bronchiolitis advances in the province and stresses the ER and hospitalisation floors

The incidence of bronchiolitis is increasing very rapidly among children up to twelve months of age, an age at which it is more frequent to require admission, which is why it is affecting hospitals in the province of Alicante. The peak of bronchiolitis, a common lung infection in young children and infants that causes inflammation and congestion in the small airways (bronchioles) of the lung, has come early. It is more common for it to appear around Christmas and registers greater volume and virulence than other years in babies a few months old, who require a stay in neonatal ICUs, where newborns are cared for up to one month of life. In general, there is a boom in respiratory viruses that has doubled the usual attendance for this cause in hospitals.

The arrival of patients is such that it overflows the paediatric ICU of the province, located at the Doctor Balmis General Hospital in Alicante to admit minors from one month to 14 years of age, which has been forced to make transfers to the La Fe de València hospital having no vacancies. Consultations in health centres have also increased.

The paediatricians consulted agree that behind this increase may be the abandonment of the protection measures of recent years with the covid pandemic, which caused a drastic drop in bronchiolitis. The more a virus circulates, the milder it becomes and since it has not circulated in recent years, the immune defences have not acted.

Bronchiolitis is the first episode of respiratory distress in children under one year of age. It is caused by a virus, and usually the one that causes the most damage is the syncytial virus, predominant this year and present in 95% of those affected. It usually alternates with rhinoviruses, the origin of colds.

Respiratory difficulty usually manifests as fatigue and difficulty in feeding in the case of babies; fever, diarrhoea, and catarrhal picture. The diagnosis is made by the paediatrician with auscultation. It usually starts as a cold that lasts two or three days, and when respiratory distress begins it is bronchiolitis, but there is no treatment that changes the course of the disease. Support measures are used, as with covid, until the virus passes on its own. Sometimes it requires respiratory support with intubation but there are no antibiotics that cure it.

As of today, admissions for bronchiolitis are stressing the ER and hospitalisation floors, with a forecast that it will worsen and in fact contingency plans are already being thought of for the coming months, according to hospital sources. Although bronchiolitis, by definition, appears in children under 2 years of age, this year most of the children that paediatricians are seeing in hospitals are very young, under six months, with the aggravating factor that the most complicated conditions that are hospitalised they are between 3 and 4 months old and some just a few weeks old. In fact, those who have less than six weeks enter directly.

15% of bronchiolitis requires admission and 5% of affected children are admitted to the ICU.

The number of emergencies has doubled in most hospitals, where they receive an average of between 60 children and one hundred children per day with episodes of respiratory infections of all kinds; and between ten and twenty affected by bronchiolitis, admitting the most serious. The average is four to six permanent hospitalizations per day lasting between three and four days that overlap with each other; with enough collapse in the UCI places.

“I transport newborns and a few days ago I had to transport a child from Orihuela less than a month old to the neonatal ICU of the Elche Hospital. That day there were two transfers to the Fe de València because the paediatric ICU (there is only one in province, in the General de Alicante) was full and did not accept more children”, explains Francisco Sánchez Ferrer, a paediatrician at the Hospital de Sant Joan, who speaks of a boom in bronchiolitis that is transversal to all hospitals, “with a greater volume, with greater intensity in terms of severity, and the worst thing is that we expect the epidemiological curve to increase because the highest peaks usually occur at the end of December”.

The EU expects 60 million homes to replace boilers with heat pumps by 2030 due to their efficiency compared to gas

Heat pumps are more efficient than traditional boilers and heaters and the European Union (EU) is promoting their use in its process of decarbonising buildings. Between now and 2030, more than 60 million heat pumps will be installed in the EU countries, which will replace the traditional boilers and heaters, both natural gas and butane gas, or appliances that use diesel.

The promotion of this source of heat to air-condition homes is accelerating due to the energy crisis generated by the war in Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Europe wants to end the burden of Russia’s energy dependence, up to 40% in the case of gas in countries like Spain.

The heat pump uses up to 60% renewable energy to air-condition a home, also with fewer CO2 emissions than conventional boiler systems. This was revealed in a conference held in the Science Park of the Miguel Hernández University (UMH) in Elche that brought together energy experts, companies and university researchers on the heat pump as natural and renewable energy on Wednesday.

The European energy efficiency directive sets 2050 as the maximum date to decarbonise buildings and put an end to those devices that use fossil fuels. Thus, gas and diesel fail to comply with the regulations, but electricity does not.

Of course, each time it is intended to ensure that this electrical energy comes from renewable sources, such as wind, hydraulic or photovoltaic. “Electrical energy is going to have a higher weight of renewable energies every time,” explains Francisco J. Aguilar, doctor and industrial engineer and member of the Energy Engineering research group of the UMH Science Park, which organised the event.

Thus, in these conferences, they opted to change the old boilers for a heat pump because, in addition to reducing CO2 emissions, it will produce thermal energy, the domestic hot water that we use to shower or heat a house, more efficiently. .

The manufacturers, also present at this conference, highlighted that better heat pumps are being manufactured with greater efficiency than they had a decade ago and their path to improvement is still great.

“In a scenario in which buildings must be decarbonized by 2050 and stop consuming fossil fuels to create thermal energy, the heat pump is the most immediate solution,” explained Aguilar, who gave the conference “R&D Actions +i in the field of heat pumps».

The efficiencies of heat pumps, to this day, are around between 2 and 4. That is to say, that for every kW/h of electrical energy that is consumed, it manages to produce 3 kW/h of thermal energy. A heat pump uses the thermal energy contained in the air to produce hot water, hence its sustainability and energy efficiency, and that it can be considered as renewable.

However, butane heaters and gas boilers do not use any renewable energy. “Of course, heat pumps have to have a SCOP, an efficiency, greater than 2.5 to be considered renewable,” the experts explained.

The students of the "Dama de Guardamar" open school in January after 14 years in prefabricated rooms

The students of the Dama de Guardamar Public School will open a new educational centre on January 9th to leave behind 14 years of prefabricated classrooms. The Generalitat delivered the new facilities this Wednesday. It is an Infant and Primary centre with two lines -two classrooms per year group- that has two classrooms for Infants from 2 years old, six for Infants from 3 to 6 years old, and 12 for Primary for a total of 486 school places. In addition to a dining room for 360 students in two shifts, kitchen and gym (370 square metres), among other infrastructures. The total investment is 6.5 million euros, according to sources from the Generalitat and is financed by European funds.

The act of occupation and reception of the centre was attended by the General Director of Educational Infrastructures, Víctor García and the Mayor José Luis Sáez. The local and regional administrations are going to take advantage of the Christmas holidays – a time when there is no school activity – to carry out the cleaning of the new premises and the transfer of all the material necessary to normalise classes. García has said that the students of the Dama de Guardamar have been receiving training in “undignified” facilities and today is “a day of emotion and we must mark it on the calendar”, which, in his opinion, breaks with the lack of prior planning to the arrival of the government of the Botanic to the Coselleria de Educación regarding the construction of educational infrastructures.

The centre, built by the construction company Ocide, occupies a municipal plot of 15,265 square metres located in the sector of the urban area parallel to the new channel of the Segura river, at the confluence of Avenida del Puerto, Calle Maestro Joaquín Cartagena and Calle Juan García. Among other striking features of the design is an Infant block with a playground and the Infant cycle toilets are integrated into the classrooms and another Elementary block distributed on the ground floor and a height with the dining room, multipurpose classroom.

The external area is distributed in a Primary school playground (2,057 m2), sports courts (2,596 m2) and the gym occupy the southern part of the plot. The three buildings are joined by porches, which protect the paths between them from inclement weather and sunlight. The Infant playground has 1,264.84 m2. There is a 1,383 m2 parking and services area, a 186.68 m2 school garden and 893.40 m2 of gardens. All classrooms have air conditioning and ventilation, through Air Treatment Units (UTA) equipped with Hepa filters that guarantee correct air renewal as well as its quality and heat pumps.

It is an educational facility with low energy consumption or zero consumption, according to the Generalitat, because it is equipped with automatic energy saving systems, sensors that regulate the intensity according to the lighting that enters from the outside and presence detectors that turn the lights on and off. transit areas and toilets, efficient LED lighting, highly energy-efficient hot-cold systems and passive thermal insulation systems, as well as aerothermal equipment to supply hot water both in the kitchen and in the changing rooms from the gym.

The energy consumption of the centre will be reduced with the photovoltaic plant for self-consumption of 40 kWh of power that we are going to install on the roof of the school. The forecast is that it will be installed in the spring of 2023 and the investment that will be made for it will be around 40,000 euros. With this photovoltaic plant, sufficient electricity will be generated to supply the centre’s air conditioning system, thus reducing its energy consumption.

In this case, it has been the administration that has fully assumed the processing and construction of the centre, without delegating it to the City Council for the Edificant plan, as has happened for school buildings that had been in prefabricated classrooms for a long time.

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