Local Daily News 19th November

The Torrevieja City Council foresees a capacity of more than 6,000 people on Paella Day without requesting a covid certificate

The Torrevieja City Council ensures that it will be able to assume a capacity of more than 5,920 people on Paella Day of the patron saint festivities on the 6th of December – if the covid regulations and the health situation do not change before its celebration. This capacity is only estimating the groups that will request some of the 364 plots into which the market area will be divided, which has an area of 80,000 square meters, enough space to leave a wide separation between paellas and the aisles for the transit of people. Hundreds of visitors who will come just to enjoy the party atmosphere should be added to the estimate of attendees.

Of course, the most massive act of the parties will be subject to a series of covid measures, such as temperature control in the only two entrances to the area, use of mandatory masks outside the assigned plots themselves, and registration with name and ID of each of the members of the requesting groups. In addition, there will be no paella contest to avoid the movement that occurs and the queues to show them to the jury. At the moment, they are not going to request a covid passport, although it is something that is in the hands of the autonomous administration to decide between now and the 6th of December.

The Councilor for Parties, Concha Sala has appeared at an exclusive press conference to report on this massive act of the festivities in honor of La Purísima given the expectation generated after its suspension in 2020 due to the pandemic. The 364 plots will be 25 and 50 square meters in size. In those with an area of 25 meters there may be an occupation of ten people and those with an area of 50 meters can house  groups of twenty. 228 plots will be for groups of 20 people and 136 for groups of ten people.

Applications for plots may be registered by electronic office and in person from next Monday, the 22nd until the 26th of November, and dates will be extended if there are places left. Half of the available ones will be offered by the electronic office and the other half in person. All those that have been received before the official registration deadline will be invalidated. “I want to emphasize this. These requests will not be taken into account. Only those that are registered in strict order of entry,” reiterated the mayor. The distribution of the plots on the market can be consulted from this Friday at the electronic headquarters of the City Council.

Fiestas will ask for an email and a name of the group and when assigning the location it will remember all the rules incorporated this year. The mayor explained that the data available in the area could mean that it exceeds the supply of spaces to celebrate this party. There will be a fenced stage with DJ music, and sanitary regulations must be remembered.

The councilor has not clarified how the mobility of the hundreds of people who in this act do not participate in the gastronomic part of the party will be resolved, and come to enjoy the festive atmosphere – which lasts from early morning until sunset, around six in the evening.

The councilor explained that this organization has a wide deployment of Local Police, Civil Protection, security guards hired by the City Council and the support of the Civil Guard, to enforce regulations and security, in addition to requesting the collaboration of all participants. The vehicles will be able to unload in the enclosure from 7 to 9 in the morning.

Ximo Puig: "There will be spaces where the unvaccinated will not enter"

“There will be spaces where the unvaccinated will not enter.” This is how clear and forceful the president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, has spoken on the future implementation of the covid passport in the Valencian Community, the approval of which will be carried out next week when the legal report that he has requested from the Lawyers’ Office is resolved. In an act of tribute to the socialist Ernest Lluch who was assassinated by ETA, Puig has insisted that what will not occur is a return to the restrictions, despite the rebound in coronavirus infections and that the accumulated incidence has once again exceeded 100 cases to 14 days.

“At this time, our will is that there be no restrictions, our will is to act with all the instruments we have” against the pandemic, including using the covid passport in certain spaces, which has not been specified. In addition to requesting that the more than 400,000 Valencians who have not yet done so be vaccinated, the head of the Council has stated that “we are trying to do things in the best possible way so as not to fall into any type of legal contradiction. Therefore, we are proposing, from the perspective of what we believe is the general interest, a limitation of access to certain spaces for people who have not been vaccinated.”

For the implementation of the COVID certificate, the president has assured that the sectors are being discussed and that the recommendations of scientists and Public Health will be followed, because “there is no single, definitive solution”, and the digital passport “is just another instrument”. For this, the “necessary technology to be effective” will be provided, since it is not just about advertising it.

Ximo Puig reiterated that the first and fundamental instrument is vaccination. “We have more than 400,000 people who have not been vaccinated and we need them to be vaccinated, to take a step forward in favor of their own life, their family and the whole of society, this act of co-responsibility is fundamental,” he said this Thursday. Another third instrument is the vaccination of those over 60 years of age with the third dose, which will be launched before the end of the year and which will reinforce those sections of the population to contain the virus.

The Vega Renhace Plan studies the permeability of the N-332

The director of the Plan Vega Renhace del Consell, Antonio Alonso, has presented his proposal for the permeability of the N-332 road to the sub-delegate of the Government in Alicante, Araceli Poblador, given that in case of torrential rains in the Vega Baja region, this route is an obstacle for the water to follow its natural course, as it becomes a barrier.

The work meeting has specifically addressed the problem that is generated in episodes of rain, in the section of the N-332, under state jurisdiction, in which the eight hazards of the final section of the Segura river converge, which, in turn, transfer the water to the mouth of the river in Guardamar; a section that affects the municipal area of ​​San Fulgencio and Guardamar.

The permeabilization of the N-332 is action number 2 of the 28 that covers the strategy designed for the region in the Vega Renhace Plan and that aims to turn this area of ​​the south of the province of Alicante into a territory resilient to a meteorological phenomenon of the magnitude of the DANA that devastated the Vega Baja in September 2019.

It should be remembered that the Vega Renhace Plan of the Consell is based on four axes: hydraulic infrastructures, climatic emergency, economic development and society; hence, it collaborates with different administrations on how to carry out the actions of each axis.

In fact, at yesterday’s meeting it was agreed to hold another one between the Generalitat and technicians from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda to advance the permeabilization project of the N-332.

In Spain, six out of 10 coronavirus patients in intensive care are unvaccinated

What happens in Spain’s hospitals in the next few weeks will determine whether or not the current rise in coronavirus cases in the country is just an uptick of little consequence, or if it is a sixth wave that will affect the healthcare system. The Spanish Health Ministry and the regions are designing a new traffic light system to assess the risk of the pandemic in a territory. Under this system, more weight is given to indicators that measure the incidence of serious and very serious coronavirus cases, rather than just the basic number of infections. The question now is, will a rise in contagions put more pressure on Spain’s hospitals? And will Covid-19 vaccines continue to protect the vaccinated against serious illness from Covid-19? The data published so far does indicate that hospital admissions have risen slightly, but there is no sign yet that vaccines have become less effective at protecting from serious illness.

According to the latest figures, released Wednesday by the Spanish Health Ministry, there are currently 2,260 Covid-19 patients in hospital, up from 2,164 on Tuesday. This equates to an occupancy rate of 1.82%. The number of admissions for Covid-19 in intensive care units (ICUs) also rose from 427 on Tuesday to 447, with the occupancy rate increasing from 4.68% to 4.90%. Under the proposed traffic light system, a situation is considered under control if the occupancy rate for regular and ICU beds is below 2% and 5%, respectively. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported 6,667 new coronavirus cases and added 30 deaths to the official toll, which now stands at 87,775. Meanwhile, the 14-day incidence rate continues to rise. On Wednesday, it came in at 96 cases per 100,000, a 7.4-point increase from Tuesday.

The Health Ministry does not release data on the vaccination status of new coronavirus cases nor the percentage of Covid-19 patients in ICUs who are fully vaccinated. But according to the statistics provided by the regions, which are in charge of their healthcare systems, the Covid-19 vaccination drive and coronavirus restrictions in their territory, more than 60% of the 447 Covid-19 patients in ICUs on Tuesday were not vaccinated. In a population where nearly 90% of the over-12s have been fully immunized since the end of September, this figure reveals the enormous protection offered by the shots.

To illustrate this point, Salvador Peiró, a doctor of preventive medicine and public health, highlights data from the Valencia region, which are nearly comparable (in proportion) to those of all of Spain. “In the weeks between October 18 and November 14, there were 31 new ICU admissions: 21 who were not vaccinated [the equivalent of 4.5 per 100,000] and 10 who were fully vaccinated [0.24 per 100,000]. ICU admissions of the unvaccinated are 18.7 times greater.”

These figures coincide with the latest studies on vaccine effectiveness from Spain and other countries that show that full vaccination protects against 90% of serious illnesses and deaths. This rate is a little higher or lower depending on the Covid-19 vaccine, i.e. if it is Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna or Janssen. The vaccines, however, have become less effective at preventing coronavirus contagions. While studies from the Phase 3 clinical trials carried out a year ago reported that the vaccines were 95% effective at stopping infections, this figure has now fallen to between 35% and 50% due to the emergence of new variants and the fact that some time has passed since the shots were administered.

The spike in coronavirus cases in Spain began to be reflected in the 14-day incidence rate on October 13. A week and a half later, hospitalizations began to rise and on November 6, ICU admissions also started climbing – but only slightly.

“It’s inevitable that a rise in cases will lead to an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital, despite the vaccination drive,” said Rafael M. Ortí Lucas, the president of the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine, Public Health and Hygiene (Sempshp). “There is a small portion of people who do not generate an immune response [from the vaccine], and others who are vulnerable because technically they are not immunized despite the vaccine. They are not 100% effective,” he said.

When asked if Spain is seeing a sixth wave, Lucas replied: “I look at the sea a lot and I know how to differentiate between waves from storms and those from little breezes. I definitely think we are in one, but it is practically imperceptible because the breeding ground is much smaller. I continue to be optimistic because things were done well.”

Alejandro H. Rodríguez, from the Spanish Society of Intensivist, Critical and Coronary Unit Medicine (Semicyuc), says it is very rare for completely healthy and fully vaccinated people to end up in the ICU. “Generally, they are not vaccinated. Of the three we have now in Joan XXIII Hospital in Tarragona, two – between 40 and 60 years of age – said that they didn’t get immunized because they were very athletic,” he said. According to Rodríguez, the Covid-19 patients in ICUs who have been vaccinated tend to have weakened immune systems or other comorbidities.

However, both experts agree that it is difficult to determine the typical profile of a Covid-19 patient, given that there are very few patients in these units. Indeed in many ICUs, there are none: the average Spanish province has fewer than 10 people in intensive care.

The data that is available on Covid-19 patients in ICUs comes from the Carlos III Health Institute’s records on the fifth wave, which began in June. These figures show that most of these patients were in the 40-70 age bracket. Admissions started to fall for patients over the age of 70, partly because they develop very serious illnesses and are often too fragile to be taken to the ICU. There were also few ICU admissions among the under-40 population, even though the fifth wave spread mostly among youngsters. This is because the elderly are the worst-affected by the virus, while someone under the age of 40 only has a remote chance of being admitted into the ICU.

In Spain, it is impossible to know how many people diagnosed with Covid-19 had already been vaccinated. Healthcare sources say that out of more than three million diagnosed cases in the first 10 months of the year, 300,000 had been fully immunized. But this is a very tricky data point because in the first months of the year, Spain’s immunization drive was still underway and the percentage of the vaccinated population was very low.

Unlike other countries such as Italy, Denmark, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, which break down figures on Covid-19 patients by vaccination status, the Spanish Health Ministry does not publish this information. 

In any case, Peiró says that basing statistics on hospital figures should be done cautiously and that vaccinated people are probably overrepresented, as anyone who is admitted gets a PCR test regardless of the reasons that took them to the hospital in the first place. “We’re trying to refine the statistics, but it is very likely that anyone who tests positive is being added to the hospital’s Covid database regardless of whether their condition has anything to do with that.”

This expert adds that sometimes, elderly people living in senior homes are taken to the hospital when they test positive, not so much because they are in a serious condition as to isolate them from other care home residents. And it is not possible to know how much this practice is affecting the data.

As for the coming weeks, experts seem to feel that the recent rise in cases will keep up, but that the impact on hospitals will be relatively small thanks to widespread vaccination.

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