Local Daily News 5th January
Alicante and Elche see premises closed due to the crisis become rental housing
The Alicante Association of Real Estate Agents has verified an increase in sales of commercial premises and mezzanines in Alicante due to the crisis, and to investors seeking to transform them into tourist homes for residential rental. A situation that is also detected in Elche, where the City Council had processed until last September 2021 a total of 28 files to allow commercial premises to host homes. The pandemic and the emergence of electronic commerce have led to the closure of thousands of businesses in the province in the last two years, generating a flood of empty commercial premises, a trend that is beginning to change in recent months. The “real estate retail” market is beginning to take off thanks to the opening of new businesses and, especially, the arrival of investors who buy premises at street level and mezzanines. The objective is to take advantage of the lower price of these assets compared to homes to recondition them and convert them into homes for tourist or residential rental. The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has closed 7,000 businesses in the province in the last two years, according to data from Cepyme.
Marifé Esteso, president of the Alicante API College, explains that these operations are taking place both in the centre of the capital and in some neighbourhoods such as Benalúa or El Pla, where there is a high availability of unoccupied commercial premises. “These are investors interested in renting who identify the premises that meet the requirements imposed by the City Council for their change of use and transform them in this sense. We are talking about a new market niche in which there are good opportunities, since prices have been falling in recent years,” she says. What used to be an image almost impossible to see in many cities is becoming a reality because, in addition, the legislation of tourist housing itself favours that these, when it is not a whole building, are located on the mezzanines or first floors.
On the other hand, Marifé Esteso expects that the real estate market in the province of Alicante will reach stability in the beginning of 2022, after the stoppage caused by the pandemic in 2020 and despite the rebound experienced in 2021, when operations reached a level similar to that of year 2019. It is necessary for economic growth to stabilize and reach the expected levels for a certain demand that continues to accumulate, to go on the market. “We can make a positive balance for 2021, as prices have continued to grow moderately, and sales have increased significantly, especially in the second half of the year. Areas such as Xàbia, Dénia, Benidorm or the city of Alicante itself have experienced great dynamism”, she points out.
Regarding specific forecasts for this 2022, the College of Real Estate Agents foresees that everything will depend on the evolution of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. “A worsening of the health situation would slow down sales a lot but if, as some experts predict, we manage to overcome the pandemic definitively this year, we can find a very significant increase in the demand for housing”, underlines Marifé Esteso, president of the College Official Api of Alicante.
The president of the Api reveals that there are national buyers who are waiting for the uncertainty around the coronavirus to end to close operations. But this situation especially affects the foreign buyer, who represents half of the market in Alicante, who needs to have full assurance that there will be no new restrictions on international movement in order to access their homes on the Costa Blanca. On the other hand, from this January, the Api that want to work in the Valencian Community must be registered in a registry created by the Council. The Generalitat thus seeks to combat intrusion.
Puig rules out new restrictions despite the peak of infections in recent days
The president of the Valencian Community, Ximo Puig, has ruled out that new measures or restrictions will be taken despite the high number of infections registered in recent days.
Puig recalled that the increase in the incidence of infections per inhabitant in recent days occurs in a very different situation than a year ago “thanks to vaccination, with which in principle no additional measure would be planned to those that already exist and that have to be fulfilled”. In this way, the president of the Generalitat Valenciana has wanted to make clear what the position of the autonomous government is after the latest data provided yesterday by the Ministry of Health, with almost 23,000 infections during the weekend.
Ómicron has left an explosion of cases at the beginning of 2022, with a total of 22,832 new infections since Friday of New Year’s Eve and at the beginning of the New Year confirmed by PCR or antigen tests. It is the worst weekend of the entire covid-19 pandemic, widely surpassing the registered mark almost a year ago when between the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of January 2021, 19,492 infections were added in three days, according to the Ministry of Health. Additionally, the most recent notification nearly doubles the 24-hour record high on New Year’s Eve, when there were 11,822 positives in a single day.
The president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, has asked for “the utmost prudence” in the face of the high number of infections in this sixth wave and, at the same time, that there be a “certain normalization” of social and economic life.
Compared to the data offered by the coronavirus pandemic, a year ago there were ten times fewer infections and less than half the amount of people hospitalized, as well as 80% fewer people died due to the covid, but at this time we must address this health crisis “in another way”, as he has defended.
The Generalitat has always tried to give the correct response to the situation of the pandemic, and now the rules of self-protection – mask, distance, ventilation, hygiene – and responsibility have to be accepted: “everything we have seen points to the fact that it works,” said Puig.
For this reason, we must use “maximum caution” in the face of so much contagion because it causes stress in Primary Care and in the hospital system, but at the same time we must “participate in a certain normalization of social, civic and economic life.”
In addition to the balance on the situation and evolution of the pandemic, the president of the Generalitat Valenciana also highlighted the “resilience of the Valencian economic fabric when it comes to overcoming the impact that the pandemic has had and still has on employment” after being made public that the Valencian Community has broken the record of people affiliated with social security, “with more Valencians working than ever”, as qualified by the regional government.
In addition, to questions from the media, the president has also referred to the return to school and has defended the position of the Generalitat that the return to the classroom is carried out normally. The head of the Consell has stressed that the educational community has precisely demonstrated its ability to cope with the pandemic and avoid contagious classrooms, which together with the reinforcement of the vaccine for teachers and the vaccination of students that are still pending, ensures a safe environment.
The Ministry of Health notifies 14 deaths from covid in one day and 3,563 more infections in the province
The sixth wave of the coronavirus continues to hit the province. In just 24 hours, the Ministry of Health has notified of 3,563 new covid infections, the second highest figure in the last month; with 14 people dying in one day, the highest figure for a single day since February of last year.
Thus, these more than 3,000 new infections represent the second highest figure since the 1st of December 2021. Until now, the maximum number of daily infections in the last month occurred last Friday with 4,222. All in all, the highest figures of positive cases reported by the regional department are collected on Mondays as all weekend cases are concentrated. This Monday, the Ministry of Health notified of 8,390 infections recorded since New Year’s Eve.
Thus, the Ministry of Health has communicated in a single day 14 more deaths in the province, a figure that had not been seen for 10 months. In the Valencian Community, 35 deaths from coronavirus have been reported since the last update on Monday. These are people who died over the last week and were notified after the update precisely from the previous day. The total number of deaths in the Valencian Community since the beginning of the pandemic amounts to 8,161 and by provinces they are distributed as follows: 922 in the province of Castellón, 3,138 in that of Alicante and 4,101 in that of Valencia. The recent deaths are from 16 women, between 55 and 96 years old, and 19 men, between 45 and 95 years old.
However, the Department of Universal Health and Public Health has notified a total of 9,160 new cases of coronavirus confirmed by PCR test or through antigen test in the Valencian Community. With this update, the total number of positives stands at 672,097 people. The new cases by province are 1,091 in Castellón (74,373 in total); 3,563 in Alicante (242,640), and 4,506 in Valencia (355,083). The number of unassigned cases remains at 1.
As for the situation of the hospitals in the province of Alicante, it remains stable in a single day since 342 people remain admitted, the same as on Monday; 66 of them in the ICU, one less than the previous day. It should be remembered that the last update on Monday meant an increase of 42 people admitted in three days. Valencian hospitals currently have 1,109 people admitted, 184 of them in the ICU: 169 in the province of Castellón, 27 in the ICU; and 598 in the province of Valencia, 91 in the ICU; in addition to those of Alicante.
On the other hand, there have been 4,389 patients with coronavirus discharged. In this way, the number of people who have overcome the disease since the pandemic began in the Valencian Community amounts to 589,711 people. By provinces, registrations are distributed as follows: 65,879 in Castellón, 213,534 in Alicante and 310,242 in Valencia. The total of unassigned registrations remains at 56.
According to the registered data, there are currently 85,666 active cases, which represents 12.53% of the total positives.
Covid multiplies sick leave by four, to which doctors dedicate 90% of their time
Understanding of the exceptional saturation situation that health centres go through and more flexibility when claiming sick leave from the employee is the request launched by Primary Care physicians through both the CESM medical union and the Valencian Society of Family and Community Medicine, from where they assure that up to 90% of the consultation time is already being allocated to managing leave and care exclusively due to covid.
From Ibermutua, which covers a quarter of the volume of the group of mutual health insurance companies in the province, the territorial director Rafael Patrocinio Rodríguez specifies that from the 22nd of November to the 3rd of January, this same Monday, those who are on sick leave have multiplied by four.
The data collected by this mutual specify that the current withdrawal processes totalled 275 in November and have increased to 1,377 in the first days of the year according to the latest statistics computed for this purpose. “It is a more than significant increase coinciding with this sixth wave,” says the territorial director of Ibermutua.
Extrapolating this data and taking into account that the workload of this mutual covers a quarter of the mutual insurance companies in the province, the number of people on leave in the province is close to 6,000 without the increase of 20% predicted by health centres for the coming days, as a consequence of both the New Year’s Eve party and the upcoming Three Kings celebrations.
“We are practically forced to dedicate 90% of the consultations to the management of sick leave and symptoms or positive tests for covid, with the follow-up that all this entails,” says Dr. Rafael Pérez from the health centre in the area of the beaches.
He adds that the phones are still enabled for telephone attention but that it is very difficult to contact because appointments are no longer managed through the Health app, which has been blocked from being able to attend only covid situations and casualties.
“Our agendas are partially blocked by this situation, the covid has been prioritized so that even the usual analytics are postponed until after the first half of January.” A member of the CESM medical union, Dr. Pérez recalls that they had already warned “since Black Friday that this was going to happen” because no restrictions were established and infections were beginning to multiply.
“From patient comments we know that even the 900 phone that only handles covid situations is also saturated.” It is the way in which patients who are known to be positive by an antigen test must contact their health centres so that they can be managed, but it is not arrived on time in most cases and they can easily go through the days without get the corresponding attention.
“We ask the employers to be more understanding at this time with the workers when claiming the leave because we are saturated”, Dr. Pérez abounds.
In this regard, he recalls that sick leave is processed retrospectively since the patient is sick at home and that what should not be done in any case is to go to work while infected.
They have even detected, from what the patients tell them, that there are people working from home who do not request sick leave despite being ill, sometimes for fear of losing their job or discounts for productivity purposes. In these cases, they do not endanger anyone else because they are already isolated at home, but their health may suffer, the doctor laments.