Local Daily News 27th October

210,000 vaccinated with Janssen will receive a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna

The Ministry of Health, as agreed by the National Public Health Commission, is going to administer a second dose against covid to the 210,000 people in the Valencian Community who received a single Janssen vaccine.

The appointment for this booster dose can be requested from the 15th of November, and provided that at least three months have passed since the Janssen vaccine was received.

The Minister of Health, Ana Barceló, who abides by the Public Health resolution, wanted to emphasize, however, that all vaccines are effective, as, she said, all the experts agree in pointing out, and that even the degree of effectiveness against the disease is also the same, as well as against the infection of covid or the possibilities of hospitalization.

In any case, it has been decided that a second dose will not be from Janssen itself but from messenger RNAs, that is, Pfizer or Moderna, depending on the stock available.

The head of the Ministry of Health pointed out this question when asked about it after the official presentation of the flu vaccination campaign, which starts this Wednesday in all health centers, in which has been made to coincide in turn with the third dose against covid for those over 70 years of age. 

“The objective is to immunize those over 70 years of age, pregnant women, people in residences and social health personnel against the flu in the next two weeks,” says the councilor, and then continue with the population of 65 to 69 years as well, as well as people at risk under 64 years of age, members of essential services and finally the rest of the population.

According to official data, in normal years about 300 people in the Valencian Community die from the flu and specialists confirm that at the same time there can be an infection of flu and covid, situations in which the risk of dying is doubled. To avoid these extremes as much as possible, the Ministry of Health gives priority to the oldest age groups in the vaccination that will receive the third dose of the covid vaccine at the same time, preferably one in each arm. Nursing services and specialists in infectious diseases in hospitals in the province emphasize that it is completely safe to inoculate two vaccines, which is done every year with pneumococci.

The Ministry of Health has purchased 1,285,000 doses for this flu campaign. Barceló states that vaccination against the flu is “essential” precisely because of the possible effects from having both the flu and covid. In this sense, she has called for people “to continue joining efforts to protect ourselves and others.”

In the previous campaign, 67.4% of those over 65 were vaccinated, but the highest rate among other groups, such as health personnel who reached 93.8% and pregnant women with 71.4%, finally exceeded the target then set at 70%.

The minister Ana Barceló recalls that the pandemic “has not ended” and that it is necessary to continue vaccinating. “The cases continue to rise and we do not know when the incidence will peak, but it is likely that we will continue to grow somewhat next week,” she stated.

There is still 10% of the population in the Community over 12 years of age that has not been vaccinated against covid. Councilor Ana Barceló emphasizes that “there is six times the risk of contagion among those who have not been vaccinated and nine times the risk of hospitalization without the full course.” It also focuses on the group of thirty-somethings, in which there are “10% of people without vaccination” against covid, and is one of those that most worries the head of Health “because they socialize more,” she said, and its incidence of cases at 14 days “is already the highest, it is 55.18 cases per 100,000 inhabitants,” underlines the head of the Department of Health.

Valencia health chief concerned over rise in coronavirus infections among tourists in Benidorm

In the United Kingdom, coronavirus infections have recently shot up once more and the situation is of great concern to health experts. The 14-day incidence in the UK is currently 928.22 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to data released on Sunday. There is currently no legal obligation in England to wear masks in any situation, although they are still necessary inside stores and some other indoor settings in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

On Tuesday, Barceló expressed the “concern” of her department given the situation in Benidorm and announced that there will be “monitoring in order to adopt measures if necessary to control the situation presented in the city.” She added that the infection curve began to rise on the 5th of October, coinciding with the arrival of mostly British tourists, although there have been recorded cases among visitors from other countries as well. There has not been any rise in hospitalizations in Benidorm due to Covid-19 nor in the surrounding areas. The majority of tourists visiting the famous city are supposedly vaccinated against Covid-19 before arrival.

For now, Barceló has ruled out modifying the system for monitoring the cumulative incidence, in order to include the tourist population as well as official residents. This has been called for by the Benidorm city council, which is run by Mayor Toni Pérez of the conservative Popular Party (PP), as well as the tourism association Hosbec.

On Monday, Pérez pointed out that there are 75,000 people officially residing in Benidorm while in reality the city is home to 180,000 citizens – “three times more,” he stated. He insisted that the real coronavirus incidence is “very different from what is being published by the health authorities.” If the regional health chief examined the data according to the real population levels, he continued, the city of Benidorm would “be in the ballpark of the figures from any other municipality in Spain.”

The mayor expressed his concern for the message that is being conveyed about Benidorm and added that “there is no reason to create concern, either among the tourists who are currently visiting us nor among residents,” because “safety is a priority for us.”

In a statement, Hosbec also said that the incidence data for Benidorm should be “qualified and extrapolated to the effective population,” given that the data being supplied does “not reflect the real situation and creates distortions that damage the image of the destination.”

The association added that if the figure of 180,000 inhabitants is used, the cumulative incidence would come in at 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, something that “is more in line with the real situation, and would dispel any situation of concern.”

Barceló explained on Tuesday that the regional health department takes into account positive cases that are detected independently of where they take place, because even if they are among tourists “they can infect others just the same” while they are residing in the area. She insisted that they must be included in the data even if they push up the cumulative incidence, and that the region’s health authorities have to register them independently of the person’s country of origin.

She added that it is very difficult to determine the exact numbers of the floating population, and that not even local councils have up-to-date, accurate figures.

Sources from Benidorm council, meanwhile, claim to have a very accurate daily estimate of the number of visitors to the city thanks to the consumption of water and the amount of trash that is generated. What’s more, they say that they have been monitoring the current situation of the pandemic in the main countries from which their tourists travel.

The increase in the incidence of covid in Benidorm cancels trips and tourism reservations

The increase in the incidence of covid, despite the lack of hospital pressure and vaccines that prevent infections from having lethal consequences, has slowed the pace of British tourists booking holidays on the Costa Blanca. The sector is once again on a roller coaster and the panorama changes from one day to the next. Just when the occupation of the airplanes that connect the Alicante-Elche airport with Great Britain had reached almost one hundred percent occupation, now comes this slowing down, which also complicates travel for the All Saints bank holiday weekend and the coming weeks for national tourism, due to the supposed exponential growth of the virus in Benidorm (unreal according to the hoteliers and the City Council) which has practically gone viral, and affects the rest of the destinations in the province. 

At the moment there have been no generalized cancellations – although there have been among retired Spaniards – but the joy with which they worked until last week has disappeared, because the bad news about the control of the covid virus has spread rapidly throughout Spain, and the first negative consequence is that retirees who haven’t signed up  with Imserso do not take vacations. 

Hosbec does not share the image of “extreme risk” that has been projected and “that does not correspond to reality”. The employer insists that the data revealed that right now – Monday’s figures – there are eight patients hospitalized for covid on the floor at the La Vila Regional Hospital that serves 300,000 inhabitants.

In addition, the management has managed Hospitality Tourism since the 15th of July and during this period less than 20 positives have been recorded that have required isolation in hotels and accommodation compared to 400,000 different tourists who have stayed in hotels.

September was, in this sense and according to the INE, a good month, which has continued this October. The hotels on the Costa Blanca catered to 322,400 tourists, of which 208,102 were foreigners and 85,000 of them in Benidorm. The current situation has raised all the alarms at the beginning of the most critical period of the low season. In fact, it is expected that starting next week the closure of hotels per season will become general, so that some 40 establishments in the province will not reopen their doors until spring. It remains to be seen what decision the hotels that work almost exclusively with the Imserso will make in winter, and how the covid pandemic will evolve in the coming weeks.

Regarding the specific situation of Benidorm, together with Alicante, the Alicante municipality with infrastructure and facilities to receive tourists throughout the year, there are two additional circumstances: Benidorm has two private hospitals in a region with more than 300,000 residents who perform diagnostic tests, but all are imputed to the municipality, reiterate the hotel managements. Benidorm also has more than 50,000 tourists staying in hotels, apartments and campsites, who change their clients every week due to the tourist rotation. In addition, the number of diagnostic tests carried out in this city is very high precisely because of the tourist component. There are many visitors who require a negative diagnostic test to be able to fly back to their country, many of them British until a few days ago, before the restrictions were lifted.

The Minister of Health, Ana Barceló, said yesterday that she was “concerned” about the incidence of covid in Benidorm, where a rate of 273.95 cases detected in the last 14 days has been reached, which places the city in a situation of “extreme risk”. Specifically, with 193 active cases. However, the City Council maintains that the actual accumulated incidence at 14 days would be around 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, if it were taken as a basis for measuring a real population of 180,000 people, not the 68,000 registered.

The Minister of Health assured yesterday that “53% of the infections detected are among foreigners, mostly English.” The upward curve in incidence began to rise as of the 5th of October, coinciding with the arrival of tourists, mainly British, although there are also positive cases among other nationalities, according to the minister Barceló.

Half a hundred families in Elche request some kind of help with housing every day

Up to 50 calls a day asking for help to live in a suitable home, either to access a home or to rehabilitate buildings. This is what the office that the City Council in Elche (now in collaboration with the Generalitat through the Xaloc network) receives calls for, offering information, mediation and advice on housing.

This service, which is located in the social center of Altabix, although it will move in the coming months to a definitive headquarters in Carrús, offers a service that until now could be found in two different councils. On the one hand, it has absorbed the work that Social Welfare has been doing in the last four years to offer housing alternatives to people without resources. And on the other, it has also absorbed the work of the Urban Planning department, which in this way manages to free itself from the management of aid to neighboring communities to rehabilitate facades and carry out accessibility works on the stairs such as installing elevators.

Another of the key tasks of these new dependencies is to increase the social housing stock for Elche between now and 2024 because the houses that the City Council offers to homeless people is insufficient for the existing demand.

Specifically, the City Council has 12 floors of the Society for the Management of Assets from Bank Restructuring (Sareb), another four owned and two more, managed with the Esperanza Pertusa Foundation, for young people over 18 who have left juvenile centers.

The City Council and the Housing Department have seen fit to centralize in the same service everything that has to do with housing with the aim of responding to citizens in a faster and more efficient way in a matter as important as this. With this, the Valencian government has made four contracts and the rest of the staff has been incorporated by the City Council from the municipal Office of Social Housing.

With this, the team of this office is made up of an architect, a lawyer, an administrative assistant, a general administration technician and two social workers.

On the 11th of August, the agreement was signed between the two administrations to make this office a reality, which will be part of the Xaloc network, a collaborating body of the Generalitat. And this Tuesday, the general director of Institutional Coordination of the Housing Department, Marc Aparici, visited the facilities with municipal representatives. He assured that the citizens of Elche and Baix Vinalopó “deserve to have a single office where they can access all the resources related to access to housing and rehabilitation.” He also pointed out that the opening of the Xaloc office is “a step towards the total municipalization of housing policies in the Valencian Country.”

The mayor of Social Welfare, Mariano Valera, stressed that “the historical trajectory of the work carried out by the social housing offices is now being included in the reinforcement of the Department of Urban Planning with its technicians and of the Generalitat Valenciana to generate actions that improve quality of life of the Elche citizens and propose decent housing and housing alternatives. The mayor of Urbanism, Ana Arabid, recognized that this is “an important commitment to unify all management that has to do with housing, both from a social and urban perspective.”

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