Local Daily News 31st December

The Ministry of Health eliminates tracing of close contacts due to the explosion of cases

The avalanche of covid cases that is saturating health centres has forced the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities to take a series of measures to relieve doctors and nurses of the overload they are under.

From now on, the identification of close contacts will not be carried out when a person tests positive for coronavirus. This screening will only be done for areas in which the exposure is considered high risk due to the presence of vulnerable people. This is one of the measures that the ministry and the autonomous communities have agreed to in the meeting of the Interterritorial Council held this Wednesday and in which it has been approved to reduce the quarantines from ten to seven days for people who test positive and who are asymptomatic.

Among the changes, diagnostic tests, such as antigen tests or PCR tests, to confirm suspected cases will be prioritized for vulnerable people or those who belong to these environments, such as workers in nursing homes. The results of the self-tests that each autonomous community decides as valid will be integrated into the notification system. This measure has already begun to be applied this week in the Valencian Community, by some health centres in which the diagnosis of the antigen tests acquired in the pharmacy is being considered valid.

In addition, doctors and nurses will not have to follow up asymptomatic or mild patients without risk factors. At the time of diagnosis, instructions for isolation and how to contact the health system in case of deterioration will be indicated.

Only cases that arise in homes for the elderly, prisons, centres for the disabled or hospitals will be followed up. Also to people over 70 years of age, pregnant women, immunosuppressed people and unvaccinated people.

The Ministry of Health and communities have also agreed that vaccinated people who are close contacts of a case will not have to quarantine. Regarding the diagnostic tests, which until now were carried out for all close contacts, are now limited to those vaccinated contacts who are vulnerable, for example the elderly, and a test will only be done on the third or fourth day of contact.

It has also been agreed that in the educational field there will be no quarantine at any level. In the event of an outbreak in a classroom, the Public Health area will decide what to do.

The reduction of quarantines by the health authorities has raised criticism from doctors and nurses in the province of Alicante, especially since this decision has been made when covid cases are growing exponentially. “Making these kinds of decisions while things are so bad does not make sense,” says Rafael Ortí, president of the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine. Ortí believes that economic conditions have weighed heavily in this decision, “but this measure will mean that the sixth wave is prolonged, with more cases and hospital admissions.”

From the health centres they do not consider it a positive thing that this measure be adopted now. “It is not going to relieve us of work. What’s more, today many patients are calling us simply to find out about this measure,” says Javier Blanquer, vice president of the Valencian Society of Family and Community Medicine. This family doctor insists that although the quarantines are going to be shortened, “the patient must exercise extreme precautions at least three to five days later.”

Finally, Montse Angulo, president of the Alicante College of Nursing, believes that this measure has been taken without scientific evidence “and there is a danger that people will go out and infect.” She also believes Angulo that this measure is taken for economic reasons, to reduce the large number of sick leave that the coronavirus is generating.

December is the month with the most deaths from covid since August and accumulates twice as many deaths as November

December has sadly broken the record for the month with the most deaths from covid since August. According to the provisional records of the Ministry, as of this Friday, 76 people have died in the province of Alicante from the disease. Last month there were 37. The deaths in October and those in September are also far exceeded, with 52 people dying from the disease.

However, the vaccine against this disease has caused deaths to drop significantly compared to the same month last year. So, with a number of infections much lower than the current one, 185 people died in the province of Alicante. In January 2021, already in the middle of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, 700 people lost their lives.

Since this pandemic began in March 2020, a total of 3,121 people in the province have died from this infectious disease.

The virus has positioned itself as one of the main causes of death in the province of Alicante, ahead of such prevalent diseases as heart attacks, which caused 510 deaths in 2019, according to the latest data collected by the National Institute of Statistics. The coronavirus has also surpassed deaths from cerebrovascular diseases, with 924 deaths in 2019; to ischemia of the heart, which caused 881 deaths that same year or deaths from Alzheimer’s, with 764 cases in 12 months.

However, and although the pandemic has hit hard, the main causes of death have not changed, which in the province are still tumours, with 4,689 deaths in the last year, and diseases of the circulatory system, which in the previous twelve months 4,376 people were killed in the pandemic.

Mortality drops compared to a year ago, but the number of infections continues to increase in this sixth wave, as well as hospital pressure, which has not stopped growing. According to the latest report that the Ministry of Health periodically sends to nursing homes for the elderly to adopt the relevant measures, there are currently 76 municipalities that are at the maximum alert level for coronavirus. Among these areas, Alicante, Elche, Benidorm or Torrevieja. To prepare this risk scale, the Ministry of Health takes into account a series of indicators, among them the circulation of the virus among those over 65 years of age or the saturation of Intensive Care Units and hospitalization wards.

Faced with this high incidence of contagions, the spokesperson for the Valencian Government, Mónica Oltra, said Wednesday that the Community faces the end of the year celebrations with a scenario very different from that registered in 2020 because, on this occasion, 90% of the population has already been vaccinated, which she qualified as a substantial difference. Even so, Oltra stressed that the best recommendation is prudence and following safety regulations, with hand hygiene, a mask, social distance and ventilation. The Minister of Equality and Inclusive Policies asked citizens to take into account that the majority of premature deaths due to covid correspond to unvaccinated people who have no other pathology and are physically well, remembering that there are still mobile points of the Generalitat to receive the vaccine.

At the moment, according to the Council, the levels of hospitalization have decreased compared to last week and the occupancy of ICU beds is “contained”. “The severity of cases in ICU has nothing to do with other waves.” In this regard, she pointed out that, if in the preceding waves those admitted to the ICU were “all intubated, now they are only intubated because they are not vaccinated or because they have chronic pathologies, but not all are intubated.” But, as she added, “this changes from day to day and, if a decision must be made, it will be made,” she asserted in relation to the possibility of expanding ICU beds in the Community.

The Consell approves the agreement to allocate almost 1 million to the organization of the "Benidorm Fest"

The Council approved this Thursday the collaboration agreement with Spanish Radiotelevisión whereby the Generalitat will contribute almost one million euros to the galas where the song that will represent Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest, the “Benidorm Fest”, will be chosen. They will be held in the city on the 26th, 27th, and 29th of January and will be presented by Alaska, Máximo Huerta and Inés Hernand.

The agreement has been signed by the regional secretary for Tourism, Francesc Colomer, and the president of RTVE, José Luis Pérez Tornero, and only refers to the 2022 edition.

This is due, according to sources close to it, to the legal impossibility of establishing an agreement of this type for more than one year, so each edition must be renewed. However, both RTVE and the Generalitat have expressed their desire to celebrate the “Benidorm Fest” for at least the next four years.

For 2022, the Generalitat will contribute 968,000 euros to the organization of the Eurovision preselection, of the 3.2 million that RTVE has budgeted. The agreement leaves the organization and production of the event in the hands of RTVE, which has largely been entrusted to Boomerang TV.

The agreement also states that public television will give visibility to the Mediterránew Musix and Mediterránew Fest brands, with which Turisme Comunitat Valenciana promotes the Community’s musical and festival offerings.

The agreement also details what the almost million euros that the Valencian government contributes will be used for. The money contributed by the Generalitat will go mainly to the technical and visual part of the festival: 872,000 euros of the 968,000 of the agreement are directed to these concepts.

Thus, the Generalitat will subsidize up to 268,440 euros for the rental of lighting equipment; 165,000 from the construction of sets; 124,157 of videowall and LED screens; almost 89,500 for stage structures and 86,048 for assembly, design and rental of monitors, as sources from the institution have transferred.

There are another 85,000 euros for technical equipment of suppliers that are not RTVE personnel; 45,600 for rental of filming equipment; 40,000 for hostesses and waiters; 22,000 for ambulances and 21,000 for a public bus service. Another 11,300 will go to scenography engines and 10,000 for the rental of musical instruments.

The agreement approved by the Council is valid for one year and will take effect from the date it is signed until the 31st of December 2022. Turisme Comunitat Valenciana will be in charge of supervising that the terms of the agreement are met.

Both RTVE and the Generalitat have shown their willingness for the Spanish pre-selection for Eurovision to continue to be held in the tourist city, at least for the next four years. However, the agreement must be renewed annually and each year its terms and amount may vary. Sources close to the organization of the festival have explained that the legal framework is being sought so that this desire for continuity of both parties is reflected in a document.

Turisme Comunitat Valenciana and RTVE consider that the search for synergies between the “Benidorm Fest” and the Eurovision Song Contest may be beneficial for both institutions, since “it will guarantee the projection of ‘Benidorm Fest’ and the tourist promotion of the Valencian Community, both nationally and internationally. “

In addition, it will allow an optimal selection of Spanish candidates for Eurovision, in a cultural event with a high level of production and television content.

Among the 14 singers who have presented songs to participate in these selection galas there are established figures such as Azúcar Moreno; references of indie music such as Javiera Mena, Rayden, Rigoberta Bandini and Varry Brava, who provide new sounds for this festival; artists like Gonzalo Hermida, Marta Sango and Unique, who represent the most commercial styles; or Tanxugueiras, who could become the first artists to represent Spain singing in Galician. Blanca Paloma, Chanel, Luna Ki, Sara Deop and Xeinn are other emerging candidates that RTVE wants to give the opportunity to make themselves known.

Torrevieja allocates 9.2 million to the integral management of the Theater and the Auditorium for four years

The Torrevieja City Council has put out to tender the outsourcing of the comprehensive cultural management service of the International Auditorium, the Conservatory and the Municipal Theater, with a four-year contract to which it wants to allocate 9.2 million euros -v2.7 per year until 2025. The municipal forecast is to have the contest awarded in the month of March to start a stable cultural program that includes music, lyrics, dance, theatre and performing arts.

Last November, the City Council received the Auditorium and Conservatory facilities from the Generalitat. Since that time, the Auditorium has hosted the cycle of great concerts of the patron saint festivities and for the months of January, February and March, different events have been programmed to give some continuity to the programming that the Generalitat has offered almost weekly to use a cultural space that cost 54 million euros.

The purpose of this tender is that these cultural endowments have a management, coordination and activity instrument that places them as spaces “of reference in the regional, national and international scene.” The specifications include providing them with a “quality and diverse” cultural program, adequate management and stimulation of audiences, “the development of attractive activities for tourism, the promotion of local production and the execution of training programs.” But the same contract also includes the maintenance of the stage facilities and equipment, the services, supplies and technical assistance necessary for the development of stage and non-stage activity in these spaces. Including the security and gardening of the one hundred thousand square meters of Auditorium and Conservatory. Also, the hiring of a minimum workforce of 18 people – not counting hostesses, ticket clerks and technical workers who will be hired by the hour – or maintenance and gardening personnel.

In the case of the Municipal Theatre, the specifications state that the winning company must perform 22 shows per year: six of them theatre, in addition to dance, musicals, children’s programming, or an event linked to the business tourism sector (MICE). The management and programming of the Municipal Theatre must be approved by the Technical Commission of the contract, which in turn will transmit it to the governing board of the Municipal Institute of Culture for its approval on a quarterly basis.

Regarding the cultural space of the Auditorium, the proposal is more discreet. It is limited to thirteen events per year, with orchestral concerts leading the way, and events related to congress tourism: the specifications call for five of these events to be held per year in the Auditorium. The City Council reserves 35 days in both spaces – most of it on weekends – to carry out its own cultural events throughout the year.

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