Local Daily News 26th October

Hosbec and Toni Pérez blame the Ministry of Health for not calculating the infection rate with the real population of Benidorm

The data on the incidence of covid in Benidorm “do not reflect the real situation and create distortions that damage the image of the destination.” Hosbec explained that this incidence is calculated on a “census population of 65,000 inhabitants when, according to statistical data on water consumption and waste generation, the real population of Benidorm at this time is 180,000 inhabitants.” For Hosbec, with this population ratio, the cumulative incidence “would be below 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which would be more in line with the real situation and away from any alarming situation.” In this sense, the mayor of Benidorm, Toni Pérez, agreed with the hoteliers in the damage that the tourist population is being subjected to by not reflecting the reality of residents there, triple what the census reflects.

Hosbec explained that the situation in Benidorm is also peculiar: “It concentrates the two private hospitals in a region with more than 300,000 people who perform diagnostic tests and all are charged to the municipality.” Benidorm also has more than 50,000 tourists staying in hotels, apartments and campsites that “change every week due to the tourist rotation.” Therefore, both factors have a “significant influence on the number of positive cases.” Therefore, they alleged that Hosbec “does not share the image of ‘extreme risk’ that has been projected and that does not correspond to reality.”

However, the employer’s association sent a “message of tranquility and security to all tourists, operators, travel agencies and consumers about the situation in the city.” But they did want “to draw attention to the importance of keeping our guard, not letting ourselves get carried away by the enthusiasm of the relaxation of measures, and being aware that a rebound in cases can seriously damage the winter season of a tourist destination.”

The hotel management has provided the sector with procedures and steps to minimize outbreaks and infections in accommodation. Among them, the updated Hosbec guide for the prevention of covid-19 in hotels and tourist accommodation in the Valencian Community, which includes several aspects: the reinforcement of information to tourists on the measures in force to prevent infection; the management of positive cases in tourist accommodation, with direct communication with the Ministry of Health; and the reiteration of the essential measures: ventilation, use of face masks and social distancing.

Hosbec hotel management has launched a communication and action campaign to continue managing the pandemic, for which it is “key” to keep “your guard up high and not relax.” This was indicated by the tourist employers in a statement in which, in addition, they appealed that the accumulated incidence data of Benidorm, which these days showed a rebound, “must be nuanced and extrapolated to the effective population to reflect the real situation.”

Hosbec explained that the epidemiological indicators in the Valencian Community “place us at a low risk level against covid-19” and have allowed the relaxation of “many of the preventive measures that were imposed.” But in recent days “there is a certain stagnation or rebound in incidence and hospital admissions in our territory and in Spain in general.” And in the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe the “situation is much worse, with high risk levels and on the verge of winter that favors the transmission of respiratory viruses.”

Commerce sees its recovery in jeopardy as energy costs rise above 30%

The rise in energy costs above 30% weighs on the recovery of small businesses, which forecast a 90% rebound in sales in the last quarter of the year and with it an approach to pre-pandemic figures, except in sectors such as textiles. Employers in the sector speak of a “very complicated situation” as the expenses they have to face in a vital period, such as the Christmas season, skyrocket, in which they expect an increase in activity. Faced with the celebration of Local Trade Day, instituted by the Council for every 25th of October, the sector emphasizes the burden that the constant increase in inflation supposes for its recovery due to the high price of raw materials and the high costs of electricity, gas or gasoline bills.

As explained by the employers, small businesses are also affected by traffic jams in ports and a shortage of raw materials, which causes delays in arrival of goods, an increase in maritime freight and a shortage of containers, “in addition to the fact that China begins to ration energy, preventing production at maximum capacity”. For this reason, they advise consumers to advance Christmas shopping due to the threat to supply. “The problem is that there is more demand than supply for containers in maritime transport. From the sector this situation has been foreseen in advance, we hope that there will be no drawbacks, although the anticipation of consumers when making purchases in advance can be a great ally in the face of the next Christmas holidays”, they explain from the Confederation of Commerce of Alicante, Castellón and Valencia (Confecomerç).

Its president, Rafael Torres, asks the administrations to be more sensitive at a key moment for boosting the economy, with permanent measures, “that are not short-term or patchy, and that really meet the needs of businesses that need more than ever effective policies to overcome the serious impact suffered due to the pandemic. In this sense, they recall that trade is a lever for recovery as the first sector in terms of job creation for all productive sectors, with 370,000 affiliates in the Community and 133,300 in the province, “which shows the enormous impact on social, labor and economic level ”.

Carlos Baño, vice president of the Confederation and president of the Alicante employer’s association Facpyme, highlights the disproportionate increase in the electricity bill, “a blow for small businesses and the self-employed. Aid from the administrations must arrive but there have been bureaucratic bottlenecks that have significantly damaged many businesses”. Despite everything, they agree that a new direction in the economy is perceived. “We hope that the Christmas campaign will be a turning point for 2022. The end of restrictions and the reactivation of tourism, including cruises, invite us to see things with a certain optimism,” says Baño.

Vanessa Cárdenas, president of the Merchants Collective, points out that support for local businesses cannot be shown only on a commemorative day. “The administration must be able to extend its support and help to all the businesses and associations that work for this business model every day.” In this sense, she calls for efficient policies and multiple and participatory campaigns. “In short, fairer commercial frameworks are regulated, with well-defined schedules that allow the conciliation of our merchants, without this representing a competitive disadvantage with the large chains; and that the administrations also bet, in a decisive way, on the promotion of digitization in local commerce without losing its essence”.

Vicente Armengol, president of Corazón de Alicante, claims real support with recognition campaigns for local businesses; improvements in security, lighting and cleaning, and integrating the trade in the Municipal Tourist Board.

Fifth vent opens up on La Palma volcano, increasing lava flow

A fifth vent opened up on Sunday on the new volcano on La Palma, in Spain’s Canary Islands. According to volcanologist Rubén López, from the National Geographic Institute (IGN), the volcano – which has been erupting since the 19th of September – now has three vents inside the main cone and two more on its western side.

Due to the opening of the new vent, the amount of magma reaching the surface increased, leading the lava to overflow Sunday afternoon. The volcanic cone on Saturday also began to emit lava – before then it had only been spewing out pyroclastic material. Miguel Ángel Morcuende, the technical director of the Canaries Volcano Risk Prevention Plan (Pevolca), which is managing the crisis, explained that this “is an important fact because in the end there is a redistribution of magma to other points.”

With more lava being released, new flows of molten rock have emerged. One of these is moving towards the neighborhood of Las Manchas, which was one of the first areas to be evacuated when the eruption began. This new flow is moving towards the southeast, although the lava feeding it is also being channeled to existing flows. For now, the tongue of lava is not posing any immediate threat. Although it is moving towards the neighborhood of Corazoncillo in the town of Los Llanos de Aridane, where the first flows passed through, it is likely to join the flow closest to it, which would be good news.

The new flows are already having an impact on La Palma, which is part of the Canaries archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa. According to the latest data from the European observation system Copernicus, the lava has destroyed 2,146 buildings and covered 901.2 hectares. In other words, nearly nine hectares were razed in the space of nine hours. This period of time coincides with the opening of the fifth volcanic vent and the appearance of the new lava flow.

Most of the lava flowing out on Sunday was being channeled down the first flow of molten rock that emerged from the volcano in Cumbre Vieja, a natural park in southern La Palma. This stream reached the Atlantic Ocean on the 28th of September and has since created a lava platform.

But the lava flow of most concern continues to be the one that entered the town center of La Laguna neighborhood in Los Llanos de Aridane. This flow has razed dozens of homes and almost completely destroyed the local school – only one building and the courtyard remain standing. “We continue to hope that it will advance towards the south, because that would prevent problems with respect to homes,” Morcuende said on Saturday. If the flow, which has now stopped in front of a local church, moves in a southerly direction, the damage would mostly affect banana plantations.

Morcuende also confirmed on Saturday that part of the main volcanic cone had collapsed, which was causing lava to overflow on the northeastern side of the volcano. On Monday morning, IGN seismologist Itahiza Domínguez warned that the eastern part of the secondary cone may have also partially collapsed.

“Here we see how the pyroclastic materials from the eruption fall onto the slope of the cone. In this way, the volcano is gaining height. As it is loose material, as it [the buildup] increases, the likelihood of partial collapses also increases,” Domínguez wrote in a message on Twitter.

La Palma also saw an increase in seismic activity over the weekend. “This seismic activity has increased notably in frequency and magnitude,” according to a Pevolca report released on Sunday, which added that some quakes had been recorded at depths greater than 20 kilometers. Between midnight and 7am on Monday, more than 80 quakes hit La Palma, although none measured more than 3.5 on the Richter scale, according to the IGN. The previous night more than 200 tremors were registered by the IGN, one of which measured 4.3 on the Richter scale.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made his fifth visit to La Palma since the eruption began on the 19th of September. “I want to announce that next Tuesday at the Cabinet meeting, we are going to modify the budget to speed up the arrival of economic resources for both the Employment Plan as well as the aid for the agricultural and fishing sector,” he said. The measures, aimed at improving job opportunities and supporting the industries hardest hit by the eruption, are worth €65 million and €6.8 million, respectively.

Appointment through a QR code and direct access for the double vaccine in the health centers of Alicante

The health workers want to facilitate the double vaccination against the flu and the third covid dose to people over 70 years of age, with the aim that they will not have to queue to make an appointment from this Wednesday, nor will the health centers collapse in the next fifteen days that will be key to inoculate against both viruses.

In the department of Hospital de Sant Joan, characterized by greater assistance to the elderly, with up to 35,000 users over 70 years of age in nine health centers and another dozen clinics, the Nursing Directorate has organized a display of posters and dissemination to bring this double vaccination process as close as possible, and facilitate it by means of a QR code that gives direct access to the web in which to enter the person’s SIP number and the date of the appointment, as Fabiola Marrades points out.

In turn, Juan Molina, coordinator of the Santa Faz-Ayuntamiento health center, emphasizes that the options offered by the link are adapted to the needs and preferences of each user, because they can take days for both vaccines, flu and third dose of covid, such as just for the flu vaccine or just for the covid vaccine.

The health workers, however, trust that the same 70% of people who were vaccinated against the flu last year, repeat this time and those over 70 years old will join for the third dose against the covid. At the moment the appointments for the flu are going to be concentrated among those over 70 years of age until next 15th of November to give them absolute priority.

Marrades adds that the term of six months with respect to the last vaccine received against covid is what marks the date of the third dose for the elderly, for whom the direct link has been devised so that they can calculate the date and request the appointment now, although they will also be reminded to do it via SMS.

Some of them have already become familiar with the Ministry of Health website, and from the new QR code – which will be distributed by hand from this Wednesday the 27th, when the double vaccination campaign begins throughout the province – the health centers of the department expect family members to help the elderly with this simplified access to request an appointment without waiting.

The evolution of the coronavirus pandemic during the last week yields better data for the province of Alicante than for the rest of the Valencian Community. There are 165 new positives compared to 191 last Monday and in the Community 562 compared to 509.

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