Local Daily News 7th September

The Generalitat ends the curfew and allows the reopening of nightlife

Goodbye to the curfew in the Valencian Community. With this statement, Ximo Puig began the press conference yesterday, in which he announced the new measures adopted by the Interdepartmental Commission for prevention and action against covid-19 of the Generalitat Valenciana. These new measures will be adopted from today to continue the fight against the pandemic.

The fall in the accumulated incidence of recent weeks and the advance in vaccination have led the Generalitat Valenciana to begin to loosen the restrictions that had been imposed in the Valencian Community since July to try to stop the high number of infections that the fifth wave of coronavirus was causing. As of today, the 7th of September, the curfew will disappear in the 68 municipalities that previously had it in the Valencian Community, of them 27 in the province of Alicante: l’Alfàs del Pi, Alicante, Almoradí, Altea, Aspe, Benidorm, Calp, El Campello, Cocentaina, Dénia, Dolores, Finestrat, Xàbia, Monforte del Cid, Monóvar, Mutxamel, Novelda, La Nucia, Onil, Pedreguer, Pego, Santa Pola, San Vicente del Raspeig, Sax, Teulada, La Vila Joiosa and Villena. 

The second piece of big news is that nightlife will reopen. Pubs and discos will be able to carry out their activity until 3 in the morning, with a time limit of 2:30 to serve the last drink. The capacity inside cannot exceed 50%, it will not be possible to dance and the bar can only be used to collect drinks. The hotel industry will maintain its closing time of 00:30 hours, but the Ganeralitat has made the number of diners who can sit at a table indoors more flexible, fixing the maximum at one table at 8 people. Outside, the limitation of 10 people to sit at the same table has been maintained. Likewise, the use of the bar is allowed only to collect drinks. 

Regarding the celebration of mass events, indoors the capacity of 50% is maintained, with a maximum of 1,500 people. In the event that the space can be divided by sectors, a maximum of two sectors of up to a thousand people each will be allowed. The same goes for outdoor events. The maximum capacity is increased to 75%, up to 3,000 people, a limit that is increased in the event of being able to establish divisions of space, since it is allowed to establish up to five sectors with a thousand people each. In the football and basketball league, if the events are held in covered pavilions, the maximum capacity will be 40% with a limit of 4,000 people, and in open spaces the capacity increases to 60% with a maximum of 20,000 people.

To sum up the changes in restrictions:

  1. The curfew has been eliminated throughout the Valencian Community.
  2. The limitation of social gatherings to 10 people no longer applies.
  3. The hospitality industry may increase the number of people at their tables. 6 to 8 people seated indoors, and the limit of 10 to a table outside still applies.
  4. Nightlife can reopen, with up to 50% its interior capacity, without dancing and until 3.00 am, with last orders at 2.30 am.
  5. In shows: 1,500 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors.
  6. Sports shows: The presence of the public is increased, outdoors to 60% with a limit of 20,000 people, and indoors to 40% and a limit of 4,000 people.

These six new measures will be in effect until the 27th of September. On that date it will be time to re-evaluate the data and assess whether these measures should be maintained or not.

After these three weeks, a second phase would begin where schedules and capacity will be evaluated. This process will culminate on the 9th of October, the Valencian Community Day, if all goes according to plan.

In this way, the Valencian Community begins to relax the covid restrictions with which the Consell has tried to contain cases of covid. Already, in the announcement made last week by the president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig assured that the de-escalation would begin as of yesterday, and that it would last for a month, with the aim that the holiday of the 9th of October can be celebrated within a “new normal” situation.

During his appearance, the head of the Consell highlighted the work of the Valencians in the fight against this last hour of the covid. “An improvement in the pandemic situation has been achieved. Thanks to the Valencians for their civility and solidarity. The Valencian Community has gone from being on alert 4 to alert 2. We have half of the people admitted to hospital due to covid and the third lowest incidence in Spain “, he pointed out.

The reeds plug riverbeds and ravines, increasing the risk of flooding when facing a DANA

The beginning of autumn is approaching and the risk of suffering floods due to a gota fría or DANA increases in the province, especially in the Vega Baja. Precisely Asaja Alicante has raised the alarm at the “neglect and absolute abandonment” of the last stretch of the Segura at its mouth, where the invasive cane “arundo donax”, the brush and mud completely plug the old stretch of the river. The farmers denounce that the Segura Hydrographic Confederation (CHS) has not contemplated a single action or budget for the maintenance of what is the natural emergency exit of the waters of the Vega Baja and the river. Given the arrival of unstable weather in the area and the warming of the Mediterranean water at this time, Asaja warns of a human and material disaster as serious as the one that occurred during the DANA in 2019, where there were six lives lost and incalculable material and agricultural damage.

Faced with this worrying situation, President Asaja Alicante, José Vicente Andreu, has warned that if the Ministry of the Environment or the CHS do not take urgent measures for dredging, cleaning and conditioning the old section of the Segura at its mouth, in anticipation of avoiding a human and material disaster such as the one we experienced in 2019, farmers from the different towns of the region will hold a protest tract in the area to denounce a problem that “affects a very large part of the population and that has not been solved due to neglect and abandonment political”.

It is not, in any case, an isolated problem of the Vega Baja. In many localities in the regions of l’Alacantí, Alto and Medio Vinalopó, las Marinas and l’Alcoià, the proliferation of reed beds in streams, ravines and boulevards has become an added danger in recent years. Reeds are an invasive plant species that, in the event of torrential rains, trap all the waste that ends up being deposited in the riverbeds. “They become a natural plug of ravines and boulevards that block the passage of water in bridges and canalizations, which gives rise to floods. Both the rubbish – from mattresses to refrigerators to armchairs – as well as the biomass and necromass of exotic species become the real risk factor with the floods that we suffer in this very steep province ”, explains the expert Ana Campo.

The cane was introduced in the province for its use in agriculture and construction. But with the rise in the market of new materials, it has ceased to be used, thus promoting its proliferation in riverbeds and boulevards. “A problem that has arisen in addition to the fact that the Administration is hardly investing money in the restoration of the ravines and that it is increasingly difficult to find specialized personnel in these tasks,” adds the president of the Vinalopó Observatory.

Finally good news: "I guess the coronavirus will end this spring"

This has been said by none other than the director of the National Association of Compulsory Health Insurance Physicians in Germany and one of the two presidents of the German Medical Center for Quality in Medicine, Andreas Gassen. And it is an opinion also shared by other renowned scientists such as Antohony Fauci, an infectious disease expert and first adviser to the White House.

“I guess the coronavirus will end in the spring of 2022”

A phrase with which to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because there are already several recognized medical personalities who venture to publicly set a period of 6 to 9 months until the end of a pandemic that has changed our lives.

Before then, both Dr. Gassen and Fauci warn that in the fall we will still see how the number of infections increases again.

The good news is that Gassen adds that even with that forecast “I do not see in the medical profession any major concern that the health system could collapse.”

But he also warns that, although the number of serious cases will continue to be much lower than the previous winter and “a little more serenity would be advisable, it is essential that we do not become reckless.”

The bottom line of the argument on which the experts are based is that as the vaccination rate will continue to increase and there will also be more and more people with natural immunity, having passed the disease, things will improve to the point that “the restrictions will probably become completely unnecessary.”

Andreas Gassen, orthopedic and trauma surgeon and rheumatologist, also spoke in favor of “no more general mandatory measures” for citizens in Germany in the near future.

From now on, he believes that people should decide for themselves “what they want to do voluntarily to protect themselves, including whether or not they should wear a mask. And the federal and state governments would do well not to take their decisions in alarm mode for months. “

It must be remembered that Gaessen is a prestigious doctor, and he was one of those who most opposed the closure in the first days of the pandemic.

Anthony Fauci, one of the White House’s main advisers on covid-19, agrees when he affirms that the United States could have the pandemic under control by next spring.

“If we can get the vast majority of the 90 million people who have not yet been vaccinated in our country vaccinated, we can have the pandemic under control by spring 2022. But it is essential to have the vast majority of the population vaccinated”.

Pfizer Biontech and Moderna are on the move and convinced that next year we will have vaccines for all age groups – even for newborns. If everything goes as planned, the first doses would arrive at the end of this year and would be for children under 12 years of age, who would receive a reduced dose.

This was stated by the Secretary General of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), Florian Hoffmann: 

“We firmly assume that from next year there will be vaccines for all age groups, even approved for newborns,” the pediatrician told the newspapers of the Funke media group.

As the school year begins in Spain, 75% of adolescents have at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine

The vaccination of adolescents against Covid-19 has moved very quickly in Spain. Despite the fact that their turn mostly came in August – a complicated month, due to the vacation season – 75.3% of 12- to 19-year-olds have received at least one dose of a vaccine and four out of every 10 have the full protection offered by the shots. As such, the new school year will be starting in most places today with wide vaccine coverage, which will be completed during the first weeks of class. The under-12s are yet to be included in the campaign, given that no vaccine has yet been approved by this age group in the European Union.

The progress among adolescents has been so rapid that coverage already exceeds that of the 20-30 group in terms of the first dose (74.3% vaccinated) as well as the 30-39 group (75.1%), despite the process having started later for the younger sector. This has a positive and negative interpretation. On the good side is the fact that the vaccine is much more widely accepted among young people, even more than the experts expected. “In this sense, adolescents have done their part,” says Quique Bassat, an epidemiologist and member of the Spanish Pediatric Society. The down side is the fact that the progress of the vaccination campaign among the 20-40 age group is clearly slowing down, with a quarter left to immunize. And this group is more vulnerable than that of the 12-19 sector.

While the percentages of those who suffer serious illness or die from Covid-19 are low among young people, they rise bit by bit as the age increases too. Until the most recent fifth wave – when just a small minority of under-40s were vaccinated – of every 100,000 30- to 39-year-olds diagnosed, 200 ended up in intensive care units (ICUs) and 28 died. Among the 20-29 group, the figures fell to 75 in the ICU and 11 deaths for every 100,000 cases. For children and adolescents aged 10-19, there were 28 ICU admissions and three deaths for every 100,000 cases, according to data from the Carlos III Health Institute.

These figures show that the vaccine is more important as age rises, given that its main benefit is to avoid hospitalization and death due to Covid-19. The risk for adolescents is very small – so much so that countries such as the United Kingdom have opted, for now, not to vaccinate the under-15s. Their experts argue that there is no scientific data that proves that the benefit for this segment of the population outweighs the risk.

But as pointed out by Federico Martinón, a pediatrician and vaccine consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO), the shots have a role beyond just the benefits for one’s own health, which in this case “are marginal.” He explains: “It’s true that what needs to be prioritized, beyond the vaccination of adolescents, is the most vulnerable people. But taking this into account, the vaccination in this group also has indirect benefits.”

One of these benefits is for the community. “It will contribute to controlling transmission,” Martinón argues. “We don’t know how much, but no less than in other groups.” The vaccines that are currently being used do not impede the transmission of the coronavirus, but they do reduce the risk. In the case of the more-infectious delta variant, this fall has been estimated by some research at around 30% to 40%, but this is not clear yet and this figure appears to fall with the passing of time, even though protection against hospitalization and death is maintained.

The second benefit that this expert points to is for adolescents themselves, given that “it will help them to have a fuller and more normal life.” Quarantines for contacts, for example, are not obligatory for people who have been vaccinated, which will allow thousands of children to attend class when a positive case has been identified among their classmates, avoiding missing more time from school.

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