Local Daily News 26th November
La Vega Baja says "enough"
The 27 municipalities of the Vega Baja convened events to commemorate the International Day Against Gender Violence, which also incorporated conferences, talks and symbolic concentrations of various sectors of the region’s society, as was the case of the two hospitals in Orihuela and Torrevieja.
After last year when the marches could not be carried out due to the pandemic, yesterday the traditional march for equality was held in Orihuela, from the door of the City Hall to the Glorieta, where representatives of the Municipality’s Equality Board read a manifesto that emphasized that violence against women, that is “so normalized and banalized in our society”, must be condemned every day: “We take to the streets demanding that existing tools be applied to eradicate what has become a social scourge”, above all “At a time of clear decline in equality.” Councilor Almudena Baldó insisted that “we will only be a just society when we banish any type of violence against women.”
The Municipal Corporation of Torrevieja observed a minute of silence in access to the City Council – as well as in the plenary session, before the session began for more than two terms in solidarity with the victims of sexist violence – and read a manifesto, in addition to developing an awareness-raising activity with a tent installed in the Plaza de la Constitución.
In Rojales, the City Council opened, on this 25N, a park dedicated to “a hope, a tribute to women who fought for equality and against gender violence. A space located on Justo Quesada avenue that includes a marble sculpture made by Alhi Prieto.
These events were also joined by the Commonwealth of Municipalities of Bajo Segura, which includes the towns of Benejúzar, Benferri, Catral, Daya Nueva, Daya Vieja, Granja de Rocamora, Rafal, San Fulgencio and San Isidro with different events in which they gave information about the resources they have to combat sexist violence and the distribution of 1,000 commemorative bags during this day with a phrase by Virginia Woolf: “There is no barrier, lock or bolt that you can impose on the freedom of my mind.”
As coronavirus incidence rises in Spain and regions consider Covid passports, demand for vaccination spikes
Spain’s vaccination drive against Covid-19 is picking up speed once again. With nearly 80% of the population fully immunized, Spain has one of the highest vaccination coverages in Europe, but there is still room for improvement. The vaccination rate began falling in July, but since the end of October, the numbers have started to rise once again.
Last week, Spain administered 72,036 first vaccine doses, 25% more than the last seven days. In the previous three weeks, this figure came in at 57,500, 57,875 and 60,849, respectively. The uptick in vaccination numbers has coincided with a rise in coronavirus cases. On the 25th of October, the 14-day incidence rate stood at 46 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Now that figure has shot up to 149 cases, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Spanish Health Ministry. Of Spain’s 17 regions, Navarre has the highest incidence rate, with 428 cases per 100,000, followed by the Basque Country (332 cases) and Aragón (245 cases).
In a bid to curb the contagions, Spanish regions – which are in charge of their healthcare systems, the Covid-19 vaccinations drive and coronavirus restrictions – have recently started to discuss making the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate a condition for entry in different venues, including bars and restaurants. This so-called Covid passport can be accessed in Spain via each region’s healthcare system, and certifies whether the bearer has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recently recovered from an infection, or has been tested for the virus.
The regions that have announced plans to introduce or extend the use of the Covid passport have seen a particularly sharp rise in vaccination rates. The Basque Country, for example, administered 3,797 first doses last week, compared to 1,562 the previous seven days, and in Navarre, this figure jumped from 628 to 1,018. Navarre, however, is still waiting for court authorization to introduce the measure, while in the Basque Country, the courts ruled against it.
In Madrid, which is also planning to introduce the measure but has not yet requested court approval, health workers administered 19,346 first shots last week, up from 10,531 the previous seven days. And in Castilla-La Mancha, the number of first doses more than doubled to 3,962, even though the regional government has no intention of introducing the Covid passport.
Experts agree that the spike in infections, as well as the plans to introduce the Covid passport, could be driving more people to get vaccinated. “It’s a very slow rise and just rising one point [in vaccination coverage] is a huge effort, but we have to continue making an effort to vaccinate,” said Salvador Peiró, an epidemiologist at the Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research (Fisabio) in the Valencia region. “The rise in incidence has definitely influenced some to get vaccinated. Those who want to enter nightclubs and see that they are asking for the Covid passport are getting scared and are also coming in to be immunized.”
Amós García, the president of the Spanish Vaccinology Association, agreed. “It makes sense that there has been a small uptick in first doses due to the increase in the incidence rate and also the talk about new restrictive measures that could bring people to get vaccinated,” he explained, adding that there is also “certain pressure in work environments and people are resentful of those who are unvaccinated.”
The boost in the vaccination drive also comes ahead of the Christmas vacations and the upcoming long weekend – the 6th and 8th of December are national holidays in Spain. This is a time when families come together and many make trips abroad to see loved ones. According to the Spanish Health Ministry, the 60-80 population is 25 times more at risk of dying from Covid-19 if they are unvaccinated, compared to the fully immunized in the same age group.
While more first doses were administered last week, the uptick is mostly due to the demand for booster shots. These doses have been going to the immunosuppressed, the over-70 population, nursing home residents and recipients of the single-dose Janssen. According to the Health Ministry, nearly four million people have had a booster shot. More than 55% of the over-70s have had the booster, while nearly 16% of Janssen recipients have received a second dose.
But Peiró believes the rate is still too slow. “The booster shots increase protection quite a lot. For the elderly, they are almost imperative. And we should be going faster than we are. We are vaccinating more slowly,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Public Health Commission also approved giving booster shots to the over-60 population, as well as healthcare workers and nursing home staff. Meanwhile, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Wednesday that these doses should be given to all adults, with priority given to the over-40s.
García, however, believes this is not the pressing issue. “We have to consolidate the additional doses in the established groups and extend it where there is room for improvement in the general vaccination drive. We have to identify where there are low [vaccination] coverages because there could be multiple sources: it could be young people with a low perception of risk, lazy people, people who are scared, marginalized or have difficulty accessing the health system,” he explained.
Hotels accuse the Government of sinking Imserso tourism and imposing low prices on them
Hoteliers explode and Imserso tourism falters on the Costa Blanca. The Hosbec hotel management association, with associates in Benidorm, the Costa Blanca, Valencia and Castellón, accused the Ministry of Social Affairs of sinking the program this Thursday, after verifying that it has ended up being awarded downwards with a reduction of 20 million euros. euros, which now, according to the employer, the successful bidder, Mundiplan, wants to charge the hotels by offering prices between 22.5 and 23.5 euros per person per day for full board, and not the 25 euros that appeared in the tender specification terms. The president of Hosbec, Toni Mayor, denounces that “it is outrageous that an award is made with a reduction of 20 million euros, and it is the hoteliers who have to pay for this. If there are 20 million left over, it means that there is a cushion to improve hotels, but we have a government that does not want to do it. They want us to accept less than what is charged for maintenance in a public hospital.”
More than 60 hotels in the province have already closed their doors until next spring, many of them worked until now with tourists from the Imserso. The accounts do not come out because, in addition, the season has been reduced to three months after knowing that the subsidized trips will not start until the end of February 2022 and in June the season changes. This newspaper wanted to know the valuation of Mundiplan, but has not replied.
Hosbec denounces that the sector is once again mistreated and humiliated in a vacation program for the elderly of the Imserso that “has been a disaster in its management from the very beginning”. Not only have the Imserso and its leaders ignored any claim, legitimately and economically argued, but they also turned a deaf ear to the advice that the businessmen put on the table about deadlines in the tender based on previous experiences.
The result has been that the program has not been able to start operating in the usual timeframe, and it is not expected that the first clients can arrive before the end of February, which will accumulate a four-month delay on the calendar that several ministers, “among them that of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, and that of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, announced and publicly assured.”
According to the hoteliers, the beginning of the price negotiation is a slap in the face to the sector: compared to a price per person per day that the specifications set at a minimum of 25 euros, the commercial and contracting departments are now finding themselves with contract proposals from the different successful bidders with prices well below this amount. Hosbec denounces that depending on the area and the category of the hotel, contracts are offered from February with a price ranging between 22.5 and 23.5 euros. “If we remove VAT from these prices, the hotelier would receive between 21 and 22 euros for each tourist, and this price must include accommodation, full board, wine and water, entertainment, heating, free Wi-Fi, and all services provided by the hotel.”
Employers once again show their outrage at this new “mistreatment and deception” to which they are subjected. Above all, taking into account that the offers that have been winning have been made with very low prices, reducing the starting price by 20 million euros. According to the president of Hosbec, “if there are 20 million euros left over, it means that there was a more than suitable framework to improve the remuneration of hoteliers, as the sector has been asking for for several years. The most surprising thing of all is that the government itself has deceived the businessmen, announcing an improvement in the price and setting it at 25 euros (still below the cost price).”
The covid passport will be required in places with a capacity of more than 50 people and in hospitals
Little by little, the use of the covid passport will be regulated in bars, discos, pubs and restaurants in the Valencian Community. The document will be an essential requirement to enter those establishments that have a capacity greater than 50 people. Also for those who visit people admitted to the hospital and for all external personnel who have to access a nursing home.
The president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, released these details this Thursday after the meeting of the Interdepartmental Commission, which brings together all the ministries involved in the management of the coronavirus crisis.
The covid passport will also be required in bingo halls and casinos that have catering establishments inside. Also at events, celebrations and music festivals (both indoors and outdoors) when a face mask cannot be used at all times. Weddings, baptisms and other celebrations are included here. Cinemas, theaters, gyms or shops are out of the question, since the Council wants it to only be necessary to enter places where the mask cannot be permanently worn.
The roadmap of the covid passport will depend on what the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community decides, which the Consell has asked for support, as on other occasions to implement this measure. If given the go-ahead, the goal is for this document to become mandatory around the 3rd of December. It will be valid for one month, so it will affect almost all of the Christmas holidays.
So far, the Supreme Court of the Valencian Community has supported the Generalitat in all the restrictions that it has undertaken alone, such as the curfew or the perimeter closure, to avoid the increase in infections, so it is not foreseeable that this measure will be an exception. Puig pointed out that if the court did not give its support, at the moment the Council lacks a plan B.
To guarantee that this measure is implemented with guarantees of its compliance, Puig has demanded the collaboration of the security forces and bodies, for which he has anticipated that a security meeting will be held as soon as possible. Also in the coming days, sanctions will be specified for those who do not comply with this measure. Unless the situation forces a review of the measures, Puig has reiterated that no new restrictions are foreseen for the next holidays.
When asked if it will be mandatory to vaccinate the workers of these businesses, Puig has alluded to the legal difficulties that this measure entails and has urged the Government to regulate it.
As soon as the covid passport is required to access restaurants or nightclubs, the only way to enter these spaces if you are not vaccinated is to present a recent PCR or antigen test or a certificate that proves that the disease has been passed in the last six months. In addition to the covid certificate, it will be necessary to present ID to verify the identity of the clients.
In establishments where it is required to show the covid passport to access them, the owners will have an app to verify that the document that is delivered is not false. The personal data obtained, as pointed out by Puig, will be deleted and will not be stored. The passport can be shown on paper or on a mobile phone and the establishments must have visible posters warning of this requirement.
The sixth wave continues to make its way in the province of Alicante with a continuous record of covid cases. The Ministry of Health notified 420 new infections yesterday. It is the first time, since the end of last July, that the province exceeded 400 cases in one day.
In addition, a person has died from the disease in the province and the Ministry of Health has detected an outbreak in Benidorm of social origin with 13 cases. The good news is that after days of steady increases, hospitalizations are stabilizing. This Thursday there were 121 admitted in the province, two more than the previous day. Of these, 26 are in the ICU, which means three fewer people in a critical situation.
But the increase in cases is taking its toll especially on schools and educational centers. More than one hundred and seventy students from eight groups of Infant and Primary education have been confined in the Colegio Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Torrevieja. The figure corresponds to around 35% of the total student body of the public center, although positive cases due to covid are in the twenties.