Local Daily News 4th January

Parents ask that the return to class be delayed for a week and teachers demand more reinforcements against covid

The highest representative of parents of students from the Covapa confederation, Sonia Terrero, raises the opportunity to delay the return to classrooms for a week after the Christmas holidays, because the increase in infections greatly complicates the situation “and the problem would be to start and have to close the centres in a week due to the increase in cases,” she warns.

Very critical of the delay in Education in providing schools with anticovid material, an extreme which in turn is corroborated by the union representatives of the teachers, Terrero states that “more than ever we need a school nurse, who both the minister Vicent Marzà and the regional secretary of Health, Isaura Navarro, have shown can be in schools because they have done so to vaccinate children.” She maintains that it is the best anticovid measure that the Council could implement before returning to class this year.

And she concludes the added problem of not having the necessary resources for distance learning “because the Ministry has not done their homework.”

The representative of the parents from the Gonzalo Anaya confederation, Rubén Pacheco, prefers to follow the recommendations of Health and the decision of the Ministry of Education, which this Tuesday meets with all the autonomies and has already made it known, as the minister himself, Vicent Marzà, that his proposal is to return on Monday the 10th, as planned, and strictly comply with the covid protocols in the centres.

The teachers do not think the current security measures against covid in the centres are sufficient due to the progressive increase in infections, and they demand daily antigen tests for children by nurses, while taking their temperature, according to the delegate from UGT; as a reinforcement of the measures contemplated in the protocols and of the material against the virus that is being delayed in a good part of the centres, as pointed out by STEPV and CSIF.

They warn the Ministry of Education that the situation can be complicated if teachers are not taken into account before the classrooms are reopened and, like parents, they request special permits from those who have to accompany their children isolated at home.

From the Workers Commissions they add the convenience of starting the heating before the return because it will be necessary to open windows to ventilate and the centres have been closed for twenty days and, in general, they are committed to increasing the security measures because the increase in cases on the streets moves into classrooms as well.

Incidence in Alicante is approaching the highest levels of the pandemic

The cumulative incidence at 14 days is also close to the highest levels of the pandemic, which could be exceed in a few weeks if infections continue to grow exponentially. The latest update, last Friday, places this index at 1,054 active cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Today this indicator will be renewed, predictably with a large increase.

At the beginning of 2021, the rate stood at 278.5 active cases per 100,000 inhabitants, but the proliferation of infections during the first weeks of last year led to a maximum incidence of 1,419 at the end of January. The situation later calmed down, going from absolute uncertainty in winter to a reasonably calm spring. Later, from the beginning of summer, the incidence rose again, although until recently, alarming levels such as those that are currently being registered had not been reached again.

It should be remembered that the departments of Dénia and Alcoy are above 1,300 active cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and that of Elda is also close to that threshold. The situation is somewhat less complicated in the extreme south of the province, where the incidence does not reach 1,000 for now.

Rafal starts the first of 46 rainwater works in the Vega Baja to reduce flooding

The last time that the Minister for Territorial Policy, Public Works and Mobility, Arcadi España, visited the region he announced that direct aid of 16 million euros for drainage and rainwater retention systems would reach the 27 municipalities of the Vega Baja before the end of the year. Yesterday, the municipality that kicked off these actions to protect the area against upcoming episodes of torrential rain came to Rafal: “Today we are taking another step, because this investment is beginning to materialize,” he said while announcing that the Generalitat has already transferred these amounts. It is “a firm reality” to “be more prepared” and limit the adverse effects of floods.

After the DANA in 2019, an unprecedented rainy season in the last 100 years in the area, “residents and administrations have learned that it is necessary to invest heavily to prevent, as much as possible, the effects of similar future episodes,” he explained. For this reason, he added, “it is the beginning of a series of aid that will be continuous.” However, some municipalities such as Orihuela affirmed that they had not yet received the amount, something that the Ministry attributed to a mere administrative issue, since “the Treasury is making payment remittances.”

In total, 46 actions, which are part of the Vega Renhace Plan, mostly focused on the network of collectors, rainwater and drainage works, although it is also planned to create four floodplain areas, four rolling ponds and three storm tanks. Only Pilar de la Horadada has proposed the subsidy for the drafting of the projects, while the rest have proposed the execution of the works, with a deadline to develop them until June 2023.

Specifically, Rafal yesterday presented the start of the works, which will last four months, to implant an outlet collector of the drainage network of the industrial estate and a network of rainwater collectors in the streets Hermanos Rodríguez, Doctor Antonio Mazón and de Hispanidad to the retention pond that will be located in the south plot of the industrial estate. It is one of the 19 municipalities that have received 400,000 for this purpose, with Orihuela (3.2 million euros), Almoradí (1.4), Dolores (900,120) and Callosa de Segura (758,133) being the ones that have captured the highest investment, “with objective criteria and based on population,” said España, who pointed out “two fundamental areas for the economic development of the Vega Baja: more investment and spatial planning.”

In this sense, he indicated that the Territorial Action Plan, in the phase of public exposure, “tries to organize to minimize the risk of floods.” Vital subsidies, in the words of the mayor of Rafal, Manuel Pineda, so as not to suffer the devastation of 2019, when he himself was forced to break the CV-912 road to try to prevent the accumulated water from flooding the municipality.

Flood of new coronavirus infections and progress of third doses should see immunity levels rise in Spain

The start of the New Year is going to be complicated in Spain. The number of people left seriously ill or who die after contracting Covid-19 is going to increase. The omicron variant is going to put the healthcare system under renewed pressure, with staffing levels decimated by a flood of infections. And more than a million people will spend the first days of 2022 in isolation after having tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days.

But once this critical point is over, the immunity developed by a large part of the population after having overcome an infection or thanks to a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine points to a more hopeful future. Some very preliminary forecasts suggest that the sixth wave of the pandemic in Spain will peak in the second week of January, and while very few experts now expect the sought-after herd immunity to be achieved with a virus that brings surprise after surprise, many are expecting a scenario with fewer infections and milder cases, apart from for high-risk groups and those who are still not fully vaccinated.

Quique Bassat, an epidemiologist and researcher at the ISGlobal institute in Barcelona, believes that the impact of this wave “along with the advance of the booster shots,” will have an important effect on the immunity of the population. Above all, taking into account that a “good part” of the infections are taking place among those who have not completed or begun the recommended doses. “We will come out of this stronger, but some tough weeks are ahead,” he explains. “The margin for infections to keep growing is now not so high, but after reaching the peak the pressure on the system will remain high for two weeks,” he adds.

According to the latest data from the central Health Ministry, more than a million people have been infected with the coronavirus since the 13th of December, half of them in the last week of the year. This rising trend is expected to remain above 100,000 daily new positives for some days yet. As well as naturally acquired immunity, immunity achieved thanks to the booster shots must be included as well. So far, more than 13 million of Spain’s citizens have received these shots.

Among the people to receive this booster dose are healthcare staff, people with suppressed immune systems, 88% of the over-70s and 75% of the 60-69 group. These data are viewed favourably by the experts, given that they are in line with the European Union average. But they do not place Spain among the best countries on the continent, as has been the case during the rest of the vaccination campaign.

The importance of the third dose is reflected in the studies carried out so far that show that the protection offered by the first shots of the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – starts to decline after the fourth month, before the same thing happens with the AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccines. Miguel Hernán, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, studied this effect in the countries that began their vaccination campaigns first, such as the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom.

“Not only does protection against symptomatic illness fall, but also against hospitalization,” he explains. “Our studies show that the booster shots reduce the risk of serious illness in all age groups. In a context of high incidence, it would be important to reduce the gap between the second and third dose, as other countries have done.”

The closure of another 25 hotels on the Costa Blanca raises up to 5,000 workers unemployed

The closure throughout this week of another 25 hotels in the province – most in Benidorm – is the cause of unemployment for 1,250 people and will cause the tourism sector of the Costa Blanca to face the two hardest months of the year, January and February, with more than 80 hotels closed and 5,000 unemployed workers. This data comes after a Christmas campaign punished by the pandemic, and, specifically, by the omicron variant, which saw 50% of the confirmed reservations only two months ago, in October, cancelled when the hotels employed 7,000 people in the province. To this drain of unemployed will be added, on the other hand, a large part of the workers whose jobs depend directly on the hotel business. A disastrous situation derived from the lack of reservations due to the social alarm that has been caused the expansion of the omicron variant and the lack of the 6,000 daily tourists from the Imserso.

In addition to the closed hotels, those that are open work at 30% / 40% due to the fact that the occupancy levels are minimal and the workforce has been reduced, not the fixed costs. According to the Hosbec employer, a closed four-star hotel with 300 rooms, with facilities such as a swimming pool, buffet restaurant, bars, terraces, and a staff of up to 80 workers, which is reduced to about ten for maintenance and marketing, faces a cost estimated per room per month is about 180 euros, with which the monthly cost is close to 60,000 euros, and without making so much as a euro.

However, the employer hopes that by mid-February the situation, if a new variant of the covid does not appear, and with three doses of vaccine in a large part of the population, will begin to improve. The hotels are ready to open, it is expected that by then the Imserso groups will start, and the tourist demand in general will also reactivate, according to Nuria Montes, general secretary of the employer’s association.

This already happened in August and continued until November. Yesterday, the National Institute of Statistics published, in this sense, the data of overnight stays in campsites during November. The Costa Blanca was the preferred destination in Spain with 289,549 overnight stays and also had the highest occupancy rate with 74% of the offered pitches. The tourist spots with the most overnight stays are Benidorm, Peñíscola and Cabanes, all three in the Valencian Community.

On the other hand, six of the 17 autonomous communities, the Balearic Islands, Murcia, the Valencian Community, Galicia, the Basque Country and the Canary Islands, exceeded in the first 11 months of 2021 the number of Spanish tourists staying in tourist apartments registered in 2019, before the pandemic. The Balearic Islands improved this precovid data by 17.8%, Murcia by 15.83%, the Valencian Community by 13.88%, Galicia by 11.76%, the Basque Country by 7.21% and the Canary Islands by a 0.48%.

After this came the irregular December and the terrible forecast for January and February. The Exceltur business lobby insists that a direct aid plan for the tourism sector is urgent in order to avoid bankruptcies and closures. The companies warn that they face this sixth wave of the virus very weakened and, in addition, the Imserso has not started up, meaning that many of the closed hotels will not reopen until April, for the Easter weekend. Exceltur warns that the situation in tourism is very worrying in the short term, which is why it requires a powerful plan of direct non-refundable aid for a sector that has stopped bringing Spain 170,000 million euros in activity due to restrictions on movement since March 2020.



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