Local Daily News 8th January

The sixth wave shoots up in the province: 10,116 positives for covid in two days and three deaths

The sixth wave of covid infections continues to explode in the province and with no signs of reaching the peak yet. In just two days, the Ministry of Health has notified 10,116 new positives for coronavirus in the province of Alicante, a new record, although it must be considered that it is the one registered in two days since on Thursday, January the 6th, the Autonomous department did not carry out the daily update of cases. Thus, 3 new deaths have been reported in the province which, although notified this Friday, have occurred throughout the week; this number brings the total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 3,149.

Infections marked another peak in the province last Wednesday with 4,376 new cases reported in a single day. On Tuesday the figure was 3,563 and on Monday, corresponding to the weekend and that same day, there were 8,390 cases. In the seven days that have passed this new year, 26,445 positives have already been reported.

The Ministry of Health notified this Friday of three more deaths in the province and 12 deaths from coronavirus since the last update in the Valencian Community. These are people who died throughout this week and the deaths were notified after the update on Wednesday the 5th. The total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic amounts to 8,197: 925 in the province of Castellón, 3,149 in Alicante and 4,123 in the province of Valencia. The 12 deaths are made up of 7 women, between 69 and 90 years old, and 5 men, between 64 and 86 years old.

In the Valencian Community, the Ministry for Universal and Public Health has notified a total of 28,846 new cases of coronavirus confirmed by PCR test or through antigen test in two days. With this update, the total number of positives stands at 712,986 people. The new cases by province are 4,112 in Castellón (80,496 in total); 10,116 in Alicante (257,132), and 14,616 in Valencia (375,355). The number of unassigned cases stands at 3.

Alicante hospitals also increase the number of admissions these days: 396 patients in the ward, of which 74 are in ICU. This figure represents 41 more people in hospitals than on Wednesday and 9 more in intensive care. In the Community, there are currently 1,184 people admitted with COVID-19, 190 of them in the ICU: 177 in the province of Castellón, 27 in ICU; and 611 in the province of Valencia, 89 in the ICU; in addition to those of Alicante.

On the other hand, 14,200 discharges of patients with coronavirus have been registered. In this way, the number of people who have overcome the disease since the pandemic began in the Valencian Community amounts to 609,250 people. By province, registrations are distributed as follows: 68,109 in Castellón, 219,818 in Alicante and 321,267 in Valencia. The total of unassigned registrations remains at 56.

Vaccination also continues to advance. A total of 4,265,296 people already have the complete immunization schedule (two doses for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca; the Janssen single dose, and one dose of any vaccine in people with a history of having passed COVID) in the Community Valencian. In total, 9,784,304 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered. According to the data recorded, there are currently 106,980 active cases, which represents 14.77% of the total positives.

Benidorm loses 1,342 inhabitants in a year and once again has less than 70,000 registered residents

Last year Benidorm exceeded 70,000 inhabitants, and it did so after seven years of falling below this threshold and struggling to continue increasing in population. But the pandemic and the movements of people generated in the first year of the health crisis has once again reduced the number of residents in the city. Specifically, the municipality has lost 1,342 neighbours in one year and is once again below the threshold that it managed to pass twelve months earlier.

The National Institute of Statistics updated at the beginning of 2022 the official figures of the register as of the 1st of January, 2021 (the most recent official data). The arrival of the health crisis hampered the increase in the population of large cities, among other reasons due to the movement of the population to rural areas, the return to their countries of residence, mortality or the low birth rate. And Benidorm has not been an exception. It is one of the municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants in the province that has also suffered from its population figures for these reasons.

This was confirmed by several sources consulted who pointed out that the health situation has caused many residents to return to their places of origin, whether in the province, Valencian Community, Spain or abroad, due to the lack of work or other reasons. But another factor has also been detected: foreign residents who have to renew their registry every two or five years (depending on their country of origin) and who often do not carry out this procedure. In addition, there is another historical problem: the population that resides but does not register even though they spend practically the whole year in it. Something that the Benidorm City Council struggles with every year through awareness campaigns.

All of this is reflected in the total population figures. According to the National Institute of Statistics, Benidorm has 69,118 people registered in the last update. This means a difference of 1,342 neighbours with respect to the previous year; a figure that shows the difference between those who have “dropped” from the census and those who have joined it. Thus, municipal sources confirmed that allegations were presented to recognize about 500 neighbours who have been accepted. With them the current figure has been reached.

Twelve months earlier, the municipality had 1,729 registered voters and exceeded the threshold of 70,000 inhabitants (70,450 to be exact). Something that has not occurred since 2013 when 73,768 people were registered. Among the causes of this increase in the register, there were several that stood out: the campaigns to show the advantages of being registered or the resident card to park in the city; but also the interest of the British who have their residences in the tourist capital for the arrival of Brexit. However, the lowest number of residents occurred in 2016 when there were 66,642 inhabitants.

But the pandemic weakened the argument that encouraged people to register and many decided to return to their places of origin. According to some sources, there would be British among them who, since there was almost no tourist activity and closed businesses, had moved back to the United Kingdom.

The mayor of Benidorm, Toni Pérez, explained that “we continue to have problems getting international residents to register.” Not just the British, but of any nationality. But in addition, there is this “forgetting” to renew the register by both EU and non-EU citizens. “We have a mass of people in Benidorm who have not done this procedure,” he adds. Even so, he considers that it is not an alarming figure that the registry has lowered due to the circumstances that the pandemic has entailed. “There are people who have not moved” despite everything.

The Port reactivates the project to convert the "Volvo area" into a macro-leisure area

The Alicante Port Authority has reactivated the project to build a new macro leisure area at docks 10, 12 and 14 -an area from where the Ocean Race and Volvo ex-area will depart on the 15th January, 2023 – which will also include a new marina sport for mooring yachts over 30 meters in length, Monte Carlo style. The project, promoted by the Puerta del Mar y Ocio company, manager of the popular Marmarela, was reversed in October 2021, but now it has taken shape again. Apart from the mega yachts, the area will have a nightclub on a surface of 2,724 m², configured as an outdoor party room, 1,033 m² for two indoor party rooms and 409 m2 for an outdoor “lounge bar” with a swimming pool. In total, a macro-area of ​​nightlife of almost 4,200 m², 3,113 of them outdoors, and just 800 meters from neighbourhoods such as the Old Town and the traditional centre, according to Miguel Ángel Pavón, from the Platform for a Sustainable Port.

On the other hand, this week the works have begun to remodel the promenade built on piers 1 and 2. A pedestrian road that runs from the exhibition hall of the old Fish Market and the Plaza del Mar. The Port pays for the works with an investment of 2.2 million euros. The works consist of repaving the entire area with granite and extending it into the port with a wooden balcony about two meters wide. Sources from the Port Authority assure that the extension of the promenade is completely compatible with the departure of the rowing teams from the Club de Regatas.

The initial concession was approved by the Port’s board of directors on the 28th February, 2020, for an operating period of ten years and an investment of 10 million euros in docks 10, 12 and 14. In a port area popularly renamed as Volvo area, from where the Around the World Sailing departs, and which for a year has been hosting open-air concerts. However, the project was blocked last October because the winning company had requested in mid-2021 an extension of the concession for 15 years including the piers for mega yachts, something that contravenes the port regulations regarding concessions, since in order to study it, it is necessary that the successful bidder has already served one third of the time of the concession granted. In other words, until three years have passed since a concession starts, an extension cannot be requested. The Port denied the request at the last administration council, and urged the company to keep the original project or to present a new modification without exceeding ten years.

The initiative is not without controversy, and already in the period of allegations, the ex-edil of Urbanism, Miguel Ángel Pavón, denounced that the substantial modification of the concession maintains harmful uses for the acoustic quality of the city, when considering the construction of a disco, party room and lounge bar, with the aggravating circumstance that both the disco and the lounge bar would occupy outdoor areas, “without any type of acoustic filter”. This area has hosted a leisure area for 25 years that is now also being completely remodelled by the concessionaire.

The project for the port of Alicante is similar to that of Malaga, where since May 2021 the works of a marina for deep draft yachts have been carried out. The works will last about eight months with an investment of around 11 million euros. The mega yacht industry is relatively new. One ship a month of these characteristics is launched from the shipyards and there are few ports in the world that have facilities of this nature to serve them. New York, London or Sardinia are some examples. The ships that use the port as a base generate a lot of employment and a good economic impact on the cities that host them.

Spain’s health officials agree on quarantines for classrooms with five or more positive cases

Spain’s central and regional health authorities on Friday agreed that entire classrooms will no longer be quarantined in early and elementary education if there are fewer than five positive coronavirus cases in a “bubble group,” a system devised to keep children in stable groups and avoid contact with other classrooms.

“With the goal of preserving in-person education, quarantines for the entire group will be recommended only when there are five or more cases of active infections in the classroom, or over 20% of students are affected, in a period equal to or shorter than seven days,” said the ministry in a statement. “If there are four cases or under 20% of students, these would be considered sporadic cases and quarantining would not be recommended.”

Until now, entire classrooms were being sent home when a case was detected because all members of a bubble group are considered close contacts. In the last week of the semester in December, 1.3% of classes were in quarantine – the worst figure since schools reopened in September 2020 following a national lockdown and months-long closure of all education centres.

On the 31st of December the Madrid region announced that it was ending full classroom quarantines in early and elementary education, regardless of how many infected students there might be in a class

With some regional officials recently floating the idea of a return to remote schooling due to the fast spread of the omicron variant, teachers’ unions and parents’ associations had backed in-person learning and expressed concern about the difficulties many working parents face when their children are sent home to isolate.

Some regions – which are in charge of their own coronavirus containment measures – had already taken a similar step even before today’s joint meeting of health officials. On the 31st of December the Madrid region announced that it was ending full classroom quarantines in early and elementary education, regardless of how many infected students there might be in a class. On Monday Andalusia made a similar move but left the final decision in the hands of primary care physicians and school nurses.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Carolina Darias had asked regional governments to wait for the joint meeting on Wednesday before making unilateral decisions.

In secondary school, vocational training and baccalaureate programs, classrooms were never considered bubble groups and only infected students, as well as those sitting closest to them, are being isolated. In any case infections among the over-12 population have dropped significantly as 90.8% of students in these programs have already been vaccinated.

The Health Ministry estimates that by early February around 70% of children between five and 11 years of age, who began getting their shots on December 15, will have at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. This is expected to bring down transmission levels, as children are the only age group that remains widely unvaccinated in Spain.

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