Local Daily News 17th November

Puig on the implementation of the covid passport in hospitality: "We want to flee from unnecessary restrictions"

The president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, has indicated that the requirement of the covid passport will be made in all places “where it is reasonable” and always trying to “flee from unnecessary restrictions”.

Puig, who this Tuesday participated in an event in the Digital District, recalled that the spread of the virus is growing in Europe “and in Spain and the Valencian Community, thanks to vaccination, we are more protected.” However, as the president stated, there are currently 500,000 unvaccinated people in the Valencian Community. “We want to get that 10% vaccinated.” For now, the Generalitat’s lawyers are still studying how to implement this certificate in bars and restaurants. Puig has insisted that this new measure will be carried out hand in hand with the affected sectors.

When asked about the spaces where it will be necessary to present this certificate in order to enter, Puig did not want to specify what they will be until the lawyers finish their work. However, he has added that these will be places “where there is a greater contagion capacity, that are closed, and where – at times – it is difficult to maintain a distance and a mask on.”

The hospitality and leisure sector does not disapprove of the covid passport being imposed to access the premises, but they demand not to be the sectors affected. “It would not make sense to require vaccination to enter a disco or restaurant, but not to access a football stadium, a basketball court, a cinema or a shopping center, where there are thousands of people and where there are also restaurants and cafes”, says Lalo Díez, president of the Coordinator of Leisure and Hospitality (CEOH) of the Valencian Community. In this sense, the sector supports the extension of this measure to try to increase the vaccination rate and return to pre-pandemic life, but demands equal treatment with other sectors “so that we do not feel singled out again.” They also ask to have the appropriate technological means to safely implement the covid passport in the premises and to be able to detect, for example, if someone presents false documentation.

Since the 1st of July, the covid passport has been valid. Obtaining the document can be done in three different ways: being fully vaccinated, having had the disease in the last 180 days or having a recent diagnostic test that is approved by the European Union. The document is completely free and can be requested by all citizens of a state attached to the initiative to create the certificate, that is, the 27 countries of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It is possible to obtain and download the certificate on the mobile device for all citizens from the health application of the corresponding autonomy, in the case of the Valencian Community on the web www.san.gva.es or from the electronic headquarters of the Ministry of Health. To have the covid passport, it is best to download it in PDF format from the mobile phone and save it on the device or print it to have it in physical format if desired.

Students in a "ghost" school: A center in Callosa de Segura teaches Primary education without proper authorization

La Monsina de Callosa de Segura private school educates Primary students without being authorized by the Ministry of Education. Three families who had their children in the center have reported the events to the Valencian Antifraude Agency, the Prosecutor’s Office for Minors, the Government Sub-delegation and the Síndic de Greuges (the Valencian ombudsman). They accuse the center of “deception and fraud”, and then the Generalitat of “abandonment of functions and laziness” and point to them as those responsible for this situation that lasted five years and in which, they assure, the students appear administratively as being out of school. The Ministry of Education confirmed yesterday that the center “is educating Primary students without authorization.” Three students whose parents asked the management of the center about this alleged irregularity were expelled from school. 

According to the complaint of these parents, the center has spent “more than five years teaching Primary education courses lacking mandatory authorization from the Ministry of Education. It is only authorized to provide Early Childhood education”. They assure that the school, which charges 290 euros per month (120 for dining room and 200 for tuition), “never informed the parents of this administrative deficiency and is also advertised as a Nursery and Primary School”, according to the complaint. The school currently has at least 25 students distributed in Primary. The complainants learned of the lack of authorization by chance when one of them began the process of transferring their child from the second year of Primary to another school for the 2021/2022 academic year. At the receiving school they informed them that the school of origin, Colegio La Monsina, known for the avant-garde design of its main building, does not appear to have Primary schooling, and lacks the necessary codes to access the child’s file and grades. In fact, those notes do not exist in the official Education network. The parents affirm that the educational inspector of this area had known about the situation since March and warned the center and the City Council in September, without obtaining a response.

On the 6th of October, the complainants forwarded to the educational inspection the result of a meeting held between the school administration and third-year Primary parents, in which they were assured that the authorization was pending “a procedure”, that the center presented the conditions to offer Primary schooling, that the situation “was known by the Ministry of Education and was allowed – by the administration – and that their children had a regularized situation.” However, the territorial director himself finally confirmed to the parents of the third and fourth years of Primary at a meeting in Alicante on the 13th of October that the center is not authorized and that they should transfer their children to authorized schools because they are now formally in a “truancy” situation.

The Ministry of Education said that the educational inspection, after being informed by families of the center, “verified that indeed this private center is educating Primary students without authorization.” It adds that it has “acted accordingly” by informing the school that “it was committing an irregularity and ordered it to inform all the families that they did not have authorization to enroll primary school students.” The Ministry of Education is in charge of transmitting the situation to the populations of the families who take their children to this center so that “all the institutions are informed about the case and they can provide schooling coverage to the affected students.”

For a private center to have Primary authorization, it is necessary to provide documentation on the facilities, the centre’s project and, especially, the degree, and above all, the remuneration of the teaching staff in accordance with their functions.

Coronavirus contagions in Spain accelerate, as incidence hits 82 cases per 100,000 inhabitants

The epidemiological curve of the coronavirus in Spain is once again on an upward trend, with cases rising at an accelerating rate. According to the latest Health Ministry report, released on Monday evening, the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 82. This is up nearly 11 points from Friday, the previous day for which data is available as no figures are released on the weekend. In comparison, last Monday, the 8th of November, the incidence rate rose just five points over the same time period.

In just two weeks, the incidence rate in Spain has risen 67%. Although the number of cases in Spain is still well below those being reported in many other European countries, in some regions, such as the Basque Country and Navarre, infection rates are double the national average. Hospital admissions for Covid-19 are also slowly rising and some regional governments are now considering introducing restrictions to control the spread of the virus.

With 79% of the population fully vaccinated in Spain, the effect of this rise in transmission cannot be compared to previous waves: today, the most-vulnerable groups are protected against developing a serious case of Covid-19 or dying, and most vaccinated people who contract the virus have minor symptoms or are asymptomatic. That said, the rise in contagions does present risks. Experts warn that the larger the number of infections, the greater the pressure on Spain’s healthcare system and its doctors and nurses.

The uptick in coronavirus infections is already being reflected in hospital admissions: 2,180 Covid-19 patients are currently in hospital, occupying 1.77% of all available beds. While this level can be easily managed by the health system – at the end of January, during the third wave, there were more than 31,000 Covid-19 patients – it is on the rise. On Monday, the number of admissions was 234 higher than on Friday. The same pattern is being seen in intensive care units (ICUs), where there were close to 5,000 Covid-19 patients during the third wave. While this figure was at 427 on Monday, it did rise from Friday, when there were 394 Covid-19 patients in ICUs.

What’s more, the epidemiological situation varies between the regions, which are responsible for their healthcare systems, organizing the Covid-19 vaccination drive and deciding on coronavirus restrictions in their territories. While Andalusia, Galicia, Asturias and Extremadura have an incidence rate of between 43 and 47 cases per 100,000, and an ICU occupancy rate below 1%, in Aragón, the incidence rate is 134 cases per 100,000, while the latter figure is at 10%.

Most of the serious cases of Covid-19 are affecting the unvaccinated. According to the Catalan regional government, the risk of being admitted into hospital for Covid-19 is 4.5 times greater for an unvaccinated person than for someone who is vaccinated, reports Bernat Coll. In Murcia, regional authorities also reported a few days ago that none of the seven ICU patients in hospital at that time (there are now 12) had been vaccinated. The lowest vaccination coverage, where there is the greatest margin for improvement, is among the 30-39 age group – where 77% are fully vaccinated – and the 20-29 population (78%).

The group of vaccination experts advising the government is also likely to recommend third booster shots of a Covid-19 vaccine to the 60-69 age group, according to health sources. This measure has been under consideration since October, when the first studies detected that Covid-19 vaccines, in particular the single-shot Janssen and Oxford-AstraZeneca, became less effective over time. A booster shot has already been authorized for the over-70 population, the immunocompromised and recipients of the Janssen vaccine.

The 60-69 age group is made up of 5.2 million people, 97.8% of whom are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Spanish Health Ministry. Most of this group were immunized with AstraZeneca and, if the booster shot is approved, they will receive a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, as is the case for recipients of Janssen. Nearly 2.7 million people in Spain have so far received a booster shot, according to the Health Ministry.

Spanish health regulators on Monday also approved a Phase II clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine by Spanish pharmaceutical Hipra. Speaking of the authorization, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said: “This second phase will take place in 10 hospitals with more than a thousand volunteers and have €15 million in support from the Spanish government. It is yet another reason to feel proud of this country.”

With cases rising at an accelerating rate, some regions are considering introducing new measures given the risk that contagions could continue to spike over winter and the Christmas holidays.

The Basque regional government has announced that it will apply restrictions in municipalities with high transmission rates, and has also opened debate on whether to make vaccination mandatory for certain workers, according to Spanish news agency EFE. 

In Valencia, Ximo Puig said his government is also working on the legal process to make a Covid pass a requirement for entry “in certain centers.” On Monday, the regional health chief of Catalonia, Josep Maria Argimon, also indicated that the Catalan government is considering extending the use of the Covid pass, which is currently only required in nightlife venues. Any changes, however, will need to be approved by the Catalan High Court.

Meanwhile, in Galicia the regional government is reconsidering its plan to relax the use of face masks at schools due to the rise in cases. While experts say that schools are safe spaces, this does not mean they are infection-free. Last week, two outbreaks were reported in schools in Madrid and Barcelona – one in Getafe, with at least 56 cases and another in Sant Cugat, with more than 40. Given the upward trend, the debate over whether face masks should or should not be worn in outdoor play areas remains open.

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