Friday, January 14, 2022

Cheaper tests

I was told that chemists here were currently selling LFT for coronavirus for €7 each.  

According to El Pais, antigen tests for coronavirus will now have a maximum retail sale price of €2.94 in Spain. The new limit brings the country closer to those that allow supermarkets to sell these home kits, such as Germany or Portugal. But despite calls by opposition parties and consumer groups for Spain to do the same, antigen tests will still only be available in pharmacies.

In Germany, a box containing five antigen tests costs €10.99 at Lidl supermarkets. That is €2.20 per test. And in France, Carrefour superstores are selling packs of five for €9.75, which comes out to €1.95 per test. In Portugal, Mercadona (a Spanish supermarket chain) offers antigen tests for €2.10 each.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Advice regarding testing

These diagrams from El Pais illustrate what a lateral flow test will indicate at different stages of a Covid infection. 

A red line at the point C shows that the test has been conducted correctly. A red line at the point T shows that you are infected and infectious. 

In the early stage, you may have symptoms but still test negative i.e. there is no red line at point T. You should still isolate and take another test later. If the line at T is feint, then you are either in the early or late stages of infection. At the height of your infection, both lines will be clearly visible. 

In Spain, isolation is seven days from the onset of symptoms or a positive test, If you have been symptom free for three days then your isolation can end otherwise your isolation is for ten days.  




 

Friday, January 07, 2022

Changes to the rules for entering the UK

As  a new variant of Covid arrived in the form of Omicron, the UK Government rushed to bring in new rules for people entering the country. The aim was to try and stop the spread of a new variant in Britain. As it turned out, it was either too late or the rules were ineffective. The dominant version of Covid in the UK, as in most countries, is now Omicron. 

Realising that the new rules were not effective and were simply punishing travellers, the UK Government has made changes:

The changes, which kicked in at 04:00 GMT, mean fully vaccinated travellers to the UK no longer have to take a pre-flight Covid test

The new rules also mean fully jabbed arrivals do not now need to isolate while waiting for their post-arrival PCR result

From 04:00 GMT on Sunday, fully vaccinated travellers to the UK will be able to take a cheaper lateral flow within two days of arriving

Arrivals who receive a positive lateral flow result must take a PCR test - which can be a free NHS one.

The problem as I see it is there are now many cases of people who are fully vaccinated being infected with Omicron. In my opinion,  the Covid passport that shows you have had the jabs, no longer proves you are safe to attend crowded public spaces.  

You really need to show that you are not infected which means having the result of a test. The problem for us here in Spain is that we have to pay for tests. Before the New Year, local chemists sold lateral flow test kits for 5 Euros. I'm told they now cost 7 Euros. The so called "fit to fly" tests were anything up to 100 or more Euros each. 

Let's hope the regional governments do not cotton on to my idea otherwise a trip to a restaurant or concert could prove expensive. 

Monday, January 03, 2022

Challenging times in school

When I was at Anfield, my first task each morning was to create a "substitution list". Aided by computer software, one of the Deputy Head Teachers and I found cover for teachers who were absent from illness.

If we were lucky, there would only be a few teachers needing cover. In the event of a teacher being absent for more than three days or a teacher away on a course, we phoned a supply teacher agency to get outside help. Up to £100,000 of the school's budget was swallowed up paying for agency staff to cover each year. 

Many of the agency supply staff were good teachers who merely needed work set by a Head of Department to get on and teach the classes. Some would even bring their own work. Even still, the lessons would often be "fill in material" not related to the normal lesson the children would be given by their regular teacher. 

2022

 As schools in the UK open for the Spring term, the worry is about staff shortages due to Covid. Clearly, the staff shortages that schools will face also affect the agencies so the option to recruit supply staff to help out will be limited. 

Schools have therefore been advised by ministers to start preparing for COVID staff shortages by merging classes into larger groups and considering "flexible" teaching options.

In his open letter to school leaders, the Education Secretary said this involves "utilising all your available teaching and non-teaching workforce to maximise on-site education for as many pupils as possible while you flexibly deliver provision either on-site or remotely to some pupils".

However, he added that this "should only be on a short-term measure".

"I urge you to do everything in your power to protect face-to-face learning for our children and young people and am confident that you will of course make every endeavour to do so," he said.

There were occasions where it was necessary to combine groups at Anfield and it was always one of Deputy Heads or a senior member of staff who would look after them*. Normal classroom teachers would likely have refused and we would not have asked support staff to take on such a task on their own. 

Since there were no classrooms large enough for a double or treble class, the senior member of staff would take them to the Assembly Hall and put on a video using the large screen and projector that we had installed for lunch times. It was hardly worthwhile learning, more child minding as the children watched episodes of the Simpsons. 

Combined groups will almost certainly be of different abilities and possibly of different ages so it will be difficult to provide any meaningful education to them. The logistics of organising these arrangements will be complicated. 

 * The Head Teacher never volunteered to help out, he always claimed to have something more important to get on with.  We never asked him. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A quieter New Year

 


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Well, well

A poll for the Observer found that more than six out of 10 voters believe Brexit has either gone badly or worse than they expected.

The Opinium survey  also found that 42% of people who voted Leave in 2016 had a negative view of how Brexit had turned out so far.

26% of Leave supporters said it had gone worse than they expected, while 16% of those who voted for Brexit said they had expected it to go badly and had been proved right.

Among people who voted Remain, 86% said it had gone badly or worse than they expected. Overall, just 14% of all voters said Brexit had gone better than expected.

If we were asked, Pam and I would have been amongst the six out of ten. These are just three ways we have personally been affected. 

1. Straight after the result of the referendum we saw a dramatic fall in the exchange rate meaning we were were getting less Euros from our UK pensions. Although it has recovered a little, it is still no where near the previous rate of 1.34 Euros to the pound. 

2. Receiving goods from the UK, either from family or suppliers has become fraught and expensive. Last week, I had to pay almost 30 Euros in customs charges for Christmas presents valued at £80. Two parcels of presents, that were posted weeks ago, still have not arrived. 

Some suppliers I have contacted refused to send me goods because of the elaborate paperwork and the customs duty I would have to pay at this end. 

3. UK banks have either closed or are threatening to close accounts held with them by those who do not have a UK address. We rely upon having  a UK account to pay for our trips to the UK and to make payments to our family e.g. monthly payments to our grandchildren's savings accounts. 


Friday, December 24, 2021

Message from the Mayor

Christmas is fast approaching which is why, from the Bigastro City Council, we want to offer our sincere wishes that we can share our feelings of love, peace and happiness, without forgetting the necessary precaution that the times demand.

With the illusion of a child that we carry inside, we receive Christmas with hope and the desire to reconnect with our loved ones in an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood.

We say goodbye to a year lived with concern about the evolution of the pandemic and its effects on our daily lives, and we receive the new one with the hope of recovering normality that will bring us security, prosperity and happiness.

On behalf of my colleagues, municipal staff and myself, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2022 full of happiness and joy.

Mrs. Teresa María Belmonte Sánchez

Mayor of Bigastro