Local Daily News 22nd October

Benidorm will ask for covid passports to be shown to attend many events of the Major Festivities

A covid passport will be necessary to attend the celebration of the next Major Patron Saint Festivities of Benidorm, which are held from the 13th to the 17th of November. After skipping a year in 2020 due to the pandemic, the City Council, the Festival Committee and the Associació de Penyes Verge del Sofratge have agreed to resume the celebrations this year and that the vaccination certificate is essential in order to attend some of the events scheduled for the days big in the city, such as the Band Entry, concerts or children’s shows, which will take place in the Julio Iglesias auditorium in the Parque de l’Aigüera and will have a limited capacity of 3,000 people.

This is the main novelty that representatives of these three institutions have already transferred to the city’s peñistas, to whom this Wednesday, as this newspaper has already advanced, the Consistory confirmed in a meeting that it would not authorize the opening of festive venues as it is incompatible with the health regulations issued to deal with the covid-19 pandemic.

The Councilor for Festivities, Jesús Carrobles, explained that the final program of the Festivities “will comply with all the necessary sanitary measures and the vast majority of the events organized by the Comissió de Festes may be held once again.” Now the situation derived from the pandemic, its evolution and the regulations in force of the Generalitat Valenciana, will force changes in many of the acts, both in location and route, and also capacity, “following the health regulations for popular celebrations set by the Generalitat” have specified the Councilor for Festivities, Jesús Carrobles, and the president of the Commission, Batiste Rostoll.

The mayor has advanced that “around 80% of the acts will be held” and always “adjusting to the regulations, avoiding crowds, maintaining the safety distance and the use of the mask”.

For this reason, private security personnel and Local Police will control the adjacent streets and the accesses to some of the neuralgic points, such as the Plaza de la Iglesia, which will not be allowed to be accessed by anyone outside the authorities and the people who have to participate in the events. Likewise, it will be private personnel who request and control access to the events in the Julio Iglesias, which will not be allowed to anyone who does not carry the vaccination certificate.

Guide to the Covid-19 booster shot in Spain: Who is eligible and when will it be available?

After conducting one of the most successful Covid-19 vaccination campaigns in the world, Spain’s public health system is now preparing for a new challenge: administering a third dose to nearly seven million people in the 70-and-over age group. The effort will coincide with the annual flu shots, which mostly target the same age group.

According to Oxford University’s statistical repository Our World In Data, which makes it possible to compare vaccine coverage by country, Spain is the only one of the 50 most populous nations to have fully vaccinated nearly 80% of the population. Among neighboring countries, only Portugal (with a population of 10.3 million, ranking 90th globally) has a higher rate at 86%. The European Union average is 64%.

According to information released on Wednesday by the Spanish Health Ministry, 37,102,507 people, representing 88.1% of the target population (those who are 12 and over) have now been fully vaccinated. The 14-day cumulative case rate has grown slightly to 43 per 100,000 people, which is still within the low-risk scenario. The ministry also reported 31 new Covid-related fatalities yesterday, for an official death toll of 87,082 since the start of the pandemic. Also, 2,528 new infections were reported for a total of 4,993,295 since March 2020.

Many citizens are now wondering whether they are eligible for a booster shot, who the manufacturer is, and how it will be administered. 

According to data from the Health Ministry, there are 6.9 million people in the 70-and-over age group living in Spain. Of these, 99.2% have been fully vaccinated. This entire segment of the population will soon start receiving appointments for a third shot – the southern region of Andalusia began sending out messages on Monday. Technically they are not the first, as severely immunocompromised individuals have already received it. “It’s been decided to administer it to the over-70s because they are still a risk group,” said Antoni Trilla, head of preventive medicine at Clínic Hospital in Barcelona. “Also, because ageing typically causes a drop in antibody levels that makes them more exposed to infection. Although many of the over-70s remain protected against the most serious forms of the disease thanks to cell immunity, I usually say that a booster shot obviously boosts [immunity], and it’s important to reduce virus circulation among these groups.”

The Public Health Committee, made up of central and regional health authorities, has also discussed the possibility of extending the third dose to people over the age of 65, but no decision has been made yet. “For those under 65, or under 60 at the most, the available evidence shows that a third dose is not necessary for healthy individuals,” said Amós García, president of the Spanish Vaccinology Association (AEV).

In any case, the third dose should be administered at least six months after the second one, which means that practically everyone in the 70-and-over category is already eligible.

People who received messenger-RNA vaccines will get a similar booster shot. Most people in the 70-plus age group were given Pfizer-BioNTech and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has authorized a third dose of this vaccine. A smaller group instead received Moderna during the original vaccination campaign, and the EMA has yet to issue a statement on whether a third dose of this brand is considered safe, although it is expected to do so in the coming days, just like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did last week. The EMA did recommend a booster shot of Moderna for immunocompromised patients.

For an even smaller number of people in the 70-and-over group who were administered the single-dose Janssen vaccine, made by Johnson & Johnson, the situation is less clear. “It’s still undergoing review, although everything points to their receiving a second dose of a messenger-RNA vaccine, given the data and evidence that’s emerging,” said Amós García.

No particular steps need to be taken in order to get vaccinated. The system used in each region of Spain to reach out to residents about getting their first doses will be used again for the booster shot. The third dose will be registered, just like the first two, and reflected on the common certificate used across the European Union to prove the bearer has protection from Covid-19.

“We don’t know whether acceptance will be as high as with the first two doses, although we have positive early data,” said Trilla. “For now they’re going to immunocompromised people, and all of them have showed up for their appointments.” This expert said that if enough individuals in the 70+ group reject a booster shot when the drive gets fully underway, health authorities will likely roll out awareness campaigns.

It is recommended to get the third dose and the flu shot at the same time. “There’s no problem, according to all published studies. But you should get one in each arm,” jokes Amós García. “From a logistical point of view, the most reasonable thing is to get them together because you save time and trips, both for the patients and for the health professionals.” 

A 40-kilometer trail will link El Pantano with El Hondo, El Pinet and Puçol

The Elche City Council is finalizing the new 40-kilometer trail design that will link El Pantano with El Hondo, with the El Pinet salt flats and with Puçol. The route will start from the Vinalopó river at the height of the Barrachina bridge and will reach two of the wetlands with the greatest ecological value in the area. The Department of the Environment has practically finished the project with a view to sending it for contracting next month, which would allow the works to begin in 2022.

According to the mayor of the area, Esther Díez, with this action the government team intends to create “a gateway” to the El Hondo nature park from the municipality and, therefore, they have asked the Ministry of Ecological Transition for collaboration to install the necessary signage along the routes that can be done both on foot and by bicycle. This path in the south of the municipality will run through areas near the Vinalopó river, some which will need environmental regeneration and clearing work. 

The Department of the Environment plans to publicly present the project in a matter of weeks.

The City Council, with funds from the Provincial Council (600,000 euros), prepared an eight-kilometer route from Molí del Real to the dam with wooden walkways, in addition to rehabilitating the dam and historic buildings such as the marsh house or the electric station.

With this new path, the local executive intends to make the natural spaces better known and promote sustainable and quality tourism in the environment.

Faced with this, the municipal claim to enable this route has already put environmentalists on guard for fear that the impact of visitors could degrade the environment of Vinalopó and, above all, fear of causing an alteration in the flora and fauna of natural spaces where there are vulnerable species.

At the moment, the Councilor for the Environment and the Ministry of Ecological Transition have agreed this week in a meeting held in Valencia, Díez together with the area technicians, to work together on the regeneration actions of the Vinalopó, both in the urban section and in rural areas, as “one of the main objectives of both administrations to ensure the recovery of the river,” said Díez.

At a slower pace, the plan to remove concrete from the urban section through which the Vinalopó runs is advancing, a proposal by Margalló Ecologistes en Acció that the City Council is willing to undertake, although it does not give deadlines for now. To do this, the Department will first undertake a preliminary study to determine in which areas this material can be eliminated, since one of the possibilities is that intermediate areas may remain as they have been until now.

The process to get the Generalitat to give the green light to the extension of the protection perimeter of Clot de Galvany, approved by the City Council in 2018, has reached its “final stretch”, according to the Councilor for the Environment, Esther Díez. The councilor and the regional secretary, Paula Tuzón addressed this week the importance of completing the procedures and have agreed to work for the introduction of new species in the municipal natural area.

Benidorm is the area of the Community with the highest incidence of covid

After weeks, the cases of covid have increased again and some indicators of the pandemic have suddenly worsened, coinciding in time with the end of the restrictions and the long weekend. The Marina Baixa region is the one that currently registers the worst indicators, although The Ministry of Health has also begun to detect in recent days more cases than expected in the region of l´Alacantí and in part of the Vega Baja. In addition, six of the ten health departments in the province have low control of the virus, since they do not know the origin of more than half of the cases they detect, when it is recommended that traceability be above 80%. On the other hand, the cases diagnosed in the last week have risen in the Community by 25% compared to the average number of infections in the last two weeks.

The Benidorm area is currently the one with the worst indicators, according to data from the Ministry of Health. It is the only one, together with the department of Castellón, that is at an emergency level 3 and registers the highest cumulative incidence in the Valencian Community, with 126.89 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The average in the autonomy is 38 cases. In this region the pandemic is hitting the elderly, since the incidence in people over 65 years of age is close to 200 cases. The Vila Joiosa hospital is the one that has the most pressure in its ICU in the entire Valencian Community. At the moment six patients remain hospitalized in critical condition and all but one are not vaccinated.

But regardless of the situation in the Marina Baixa, there are other areas of the province where cases are increasing above forecasts. This is warned by the Ministry of Health through the covid cluster tool, which is obtained from individualized cases declared to the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network. Each cluster constitutes an excess of cases observed in 10 kilometers and during the last 7 days compared to the previous 30 days.

Thus, several clusters have been detected in the province. The first corresponds to the area of ​​Benidorm, Finestrat and La Vila. The second includes Alicante, Mutxamel, San Vicente, Sant Joan and El Campello, where the cases that have occurred are 4 times those expected in the last seven days. La Romana also has a higher number of infections than the Ministry of Health estimates and, finally, in Vega Baja, the area of ​​Orihuela, San Miguel de Salinas and Torrevieja has also registered six times more cases than expected in the last week.

As for hospitals, in all health departments the situation is of a new normal, with very low rates of admission due to coronavirus. The situation in the ICUs is somewhat more complicated, especially in La Vila. Dénia and the Hospital de Sant Joan are also at medium risk due to the increase in patients in critical situations.

Despite this worsening of the situation in recent days, experts such as Juan Francisco Navarro, president of the Valencian Society of Preventive Medicine, rule out that this new rebound is going to lead us to a wave of dimensions like those we have had in previous months. Navarro does call to establish measures aimed especially at capturing 10% of people who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus “and who represent a niche to produce outbreaks of covid.” This specialist believes that it is necessary to implement the covid certificate as soon as possible to access leisure and restaurant venues and thus make it more difficult for those who have not wanted to be vaccinated.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Health has notified 281 new cases of coronavirus in the Valencian Community. Of these new infections, 121 correspond to the province of Alicante, the highest figure recorded in a single day in just over a month. In Castellón, 63 and 121 have been notified in Alicante, and 97 in Valencia. 

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