Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pointing the finger

We tell our friends and family in England that the response there to the pandemic has been too slow and that the Government have been indecisive but was the Spanish Government any better?

This is taken from an article in the Guardian newspaper.

Spain does not share land borders with the countries that were first showing cases of the coronavirus.
This may, in fact, be one of the reasons for the country’s late response. Spain thought it was far enough away. “Spain will only have a handful of cases,” said Dr Fernando Simón, the head of medical emergencies in Madrid, on 9 February. Six weeks later he gives out daily figures of hundreds of deaths. The number of dead per capita is already three times that of Iran, and 40 times higher than China.

On 19 February, 2,500 Valencia soccer fans mixed with 40,000 Atalanta supporters for a Champions League game in Bergamo which Giorgio Gori, mayor of the Italian city, has described as “the bomb” which exploded the virus in Lombardy.

In Spain, Valencia players, fans and sports journalists were amongst the first to fall ill.

The main reason for the quick spread through Spain may be linked to the fact that is has been an unusually mild, sunny Spring. In late February and early March, with temperatures above 20C, Madrid’s pavement cafes and bars were heaving with madrilenos socialising.

On 8 March, just a week before the country was closed down, sports events, political party conferences and massive demonstrations to mark International Women’s Day all took place. Three days later, about 3,000 Atlético de Madrid fans flew together for another Champions League match in Liverpool.

When Pedro Sánchez announced that he would be invoking emergency powers, he took more than 24 hours to put them in place – by which time part of the population of Madrid and other cities had dispersed across the country.

Poor coordination also meant that the regional government of Madrid had closed universities and schools earlier that week, provoking a holiday atmosphere in which bars and parks were full and many families left for their beach homes.

The lockdown that began on 14 March has been efficiently enforced with police fines. As a result, Spain’s ghastly curve of fatalities will begin to flatten soon and ministers say measures should start being relaxed when the month-long quarantine ends on 11 April. Yet no-one expects a return to normality.

Monday, March 23, 2020

I am ashamed of my fellow countrymen

People in the UK have to start taking this coronavirus seriously. It has the potential to kill millions of people worldwide unless it is stopped in its tracks. You only need to read reports from people who have suffered from the virus and reports from doctors who are treating patients with the disease to know how horrible and painful it can be. In the worst cases, when death comes it is probably a mercy. In even the mildest cases, it is something that people will never forget.

Boris Johnson advised people to stay away from pubs, clubs, theatres etc and what happened? They ignored him, even his own father said he'd still be going for his pint of beer thank you very much.

Then the Prime Minister told people that pubs etc would be closed but they could still go out and get some fresh air and exercise.  In fact, he positively encouraged them to go out for the sake of their mental and physical wellbeing. However,  he advised them to maintain a social distance of 2 metres. When he was asked, "how would you maintain social distance between a group of 5 year old children?", he had no answer.

Well, Brits certainly did go out over the weekend, in great numbers. There were so many people in popular places like markets, the seaside etc, it would have been impossible for them to stay 2m apart but actually, they didn't seem to care how far they were apart. It was almost like they were sticking two fingers up to the Prime Minister and his advisers. The fact that they felt well and had no symtoms did not mean that they were not carrying the virus on them ready to infect as many people as they met. Clearly, the message is not getting through - probably because it is not strong enough.

Pam spoke to her best friend from schooldays yesterday. She said that the beaches in North Norwich were crowded with people. They were going to take the dog for a walk but would chose what they thought would be a quiet lane. I hope they managed to find somewhere secluded but from reports in the papers, I doubt they would be so lucky.

Worse than that all that though, there is a report in the Independent of large crowds of youths coughing and spitting at frontline emergency workers dealing with a serious incident on Saturday night in West Yorkshire. After the coughing and spitting, motorbike riders came along and threw eggs at the police who were dealing with the incident. The youths were attacking the very people who are attempting to protect  them and their lives, the ones they will rely on to keep them safe when things get worse as they surely will.

The British only need to look at Italy and what happened there. People in Italy thought that Covid-19 was just like a normal winter flu and so carried on with their normal lives. They were advised to stay in, to maintain social distancing but like the Brits, they chose to ignore that advice.

On March 5th the death toll in Italy rose by over 50% and so the authorities decided it was time to take a stronger stance and impose control. As the lockdown set in, over the course of a week police charged more than 40,000 citizens for flouting the quarantine rules.

Even if Boris decides to impose control by law, the same will likely happen in Britain. People will continue to ignore him and put more lives at risk. Like the Italians, the British people know best.

Folks, it is not about saving the National Health Service as Boris keeps telling us, it is about saving the lives of our friends and family - sparing them from this horrible disease that won't go away until we stop it. I hope and believe that we can beat this terrible virus but not if we keep sticking our fingers up and burying our heads in the sand.


Friday, March 20, 2020

Orderly

Back down to Bigastro this morning to have my knee checked. The good news is that it is healing up nicely and I won't need it re-dressing. Again there were only a couple of people in the Medical Centre. Some of the staff have taken to wearing green disposable theatre gowns, green hair caps and slip on covers for their shoes. It looked ominous but I am sure it wasn't, there are still no reported cases in Bigastro.

Onward to the pharmacy where they were allowing two people at a time inside. They had erected glass screena and put tape around chairs to distance you from the personnel. Similarly, in the tabacco shop there was a screen to seperate you from the people serving.

Spar and the veg shop opposite were restricting the number of customers with those waiting forming a line outside with recommended distancing of course.

There was no panic, nobody with excessive quantities of goods and shelves that were well filled. There was no need to set limits because everyone seemed to be buying sensibly. It was markedly different to the scenes in the UK papers of shoppers with huge quantities of toilet paper and sad faced seniors contemplating vacant shelves wondering what they were going to be able to buy to feed themselves. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Further restriction

The Government has modified the Royal Decree.

So, from today, we will be restricted to travelling with only one person in a car. 

NB There are only four exceptions

In this way, the Government of Pedro Sánchez adds the limitation of freedom of movement on public use roads, other use spaces such as beaches, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The exceptions are: accompanying people with disabilities, minors, the elderly, or a duly justified cause.

This possible sanction is added to those already in place for skipping confinement. Rmember you should only be in public places for tasks such as buying food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities, as well as attending health centres, services and establishments, caring for the elderly, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or especially vulnerable people.

Travel to the workplace  to carry out their work, professional or business provision is also allowed, as well as the return to the place of habitual residence.



Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Please take note


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Que raro

Normally, the Medical Centre in Bigastro is packed on Monday mornings with people. This was the scene yesterday when I went down to have the dressing on my knee changed.

There was just one other person waiting and another who came to see one of the doctors. The personnel, dressed in white, some wearing masks, were wandering around looking purposeful.

Stop you from getting bored


The world of culture is one of the most affected by the suspension of daily life that is occurring these days as a result of the expansion of the coronavirus. For this reason, the Bigastro City Council recommends the following digital culture proposals available free of charge.

Theatre and Opera - https://bit.ly/2WjMQ5S
Art and Painting - https://bit.ly/3d88MXk
Cinema - https:// bit.ly/2WqLlCG
Series - https://bit.ly/2TWuYw5 🎙
Radio - https://bit.ly/38YahnT
Comedy - https://bit.ly/2wgTAXx
Concerts - https://bit.ly/3a8kGPr
Museums - https://bit.ly/2ISPOWV
Books - https://bit.ly/33lUaiT
Scores - https://bit.ly/39ZLSzM
Magazines - https://bit.ly/38UOMo6
Music - https://spoti.fi/38WXLFc
 Poetry - https://bit.ly/33sGxhY
Activities for children - https://bit.ly/33mSwgI

UNESCO
https://www.wdl.org/en/
Gather maps, texts, photos, recordings and films of all time and explain in seven languages ​​the jewels and cultural relics of all the libraries on the planet.

Boris looks almost ill

Those of you who watched the broadcast yesterday will have seen a very different Boris Johnson to the one that welcomed the new MPs to Westminster. Yesterday, he looked haggard, tired and stressed. Luckily, he had specialists either side of him to explain things and answer questions as he stumbled over his replies to questions. .

We can draw comparisons between the measures taken in Britain and those taken in e.g.Spain.

Whilst Johnson "advised" people not to visit pubs, restuarants, theatres etc, Spain has made it illegal to be out and about. Pubs, clubs, restaurants in Spain are CLOSED, in Britain they could remain open just in case there are any customers who choose to ignore the advice.

Cynical people have already come to the conclusion that the British Government stopped short of forcing a lockdown to avoid having to compensate the hospitality industry for loss of earnings. The British approach also means that businesses cannot claim on their insurance because they do not face a forced closure.

Johnson also falls short of putting a ban on mass gatherings. Instead he says that they will no longer provide emergency support for large events.

All Boris Johnson wanted was to be Prime Minister and "get Brexit done", Unfortunately, he has landed himself with the task of trying to steer the country through a health crisis. Only time will tell if if he is up to the task. 

That makes sense

Orginally, I thought the police were saying that dog walking was not permitted at all under the "State of Alarm".

Whilst this notice does not give you permission to take your dog for a ramble, it does allow you to take it for a toilet break. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

The natural way

Bigastro's will be protected from pests in the most natural way, with a greater presence of their predators. To achieve this objective, a series of nest boxes are being installed to attract the settlement of a larger population of insectivorous birds that fight pests such as that of the pine processionary. The Bigastro City Council has launched this campaign with the collaboration of the Association of People with Disabilities "La Pedrera", who have produced nest boxes of various sizes.

The first wooden nests have been installed in the trees that are located on the Alquibla Route, in the area of ​​La Pedrera. The councilor for the Environment, Antonio Meseguer, and the environmental technician, Pablo Perales, helped by some users of the association as well as by students from the San José de Calasanz Institute, carefully placed what will be future "homes" for the birds. In addition to processionary, the greater presence of birds will allow controlling the annoying mosquito plague. Meseguer noted that this initiative is part of a project that works on environmental education, and "we are looking for ways to reduce the use of chemical pesticides."

The project arises from an agreement of the City Council with the Ibero-African Biological Studies Society, where through a contribution of 700 euros, manufacturing of nest boxes and talks were held in educational centers in Bigastro. Pablo Perales, in charge of the project, explained that "it is about promoting the nesting of insectivorous species, both in natural areas and in urban settings, especially birds that have suffered a significant decline in recent years, and now it will be treated to make life easier for species such as hoopoe, scops owl, as well as small birds that feed on insects that are a pest.

After placing these boxes, the beginning of colonization will be monitored in June, and then, in March or April 2021,

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Check before you go

If you have an appointment at the Medical Centre in Bigastro, phone 966 904 400 and you will receive instruction as to whether you should attend or not.

If you have an appointment at the Centre in Orihuela or at the Hospital Vega Baja, they will phone you to tell you whether to attend or not.

UPDATED

Just to be clear

Which parts of Spain do the measures affect?
The declaration of the state of alarm went into action on Saturday night, and affects the whole of Spain for a period of 15 days.

Which branch of the administration is in charge?
Under the state of alarm, the central government in Madrid has all powers. All security forces, including local and regional police forces, are under direct orders of Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska. The government will reserve the right to fine people who do not respect the restrictions, as is allowed under the 1981 law setting out the conditions of the state of alert.

What are the restrictions on movement?
During the state of alarm, citizens and vehicles will only be allowed to travel on public roads and streets for the following activities:
The purchase of foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and essential items.
To attend health centers.
To go to work or to provide employment services.
To return to your usual residence.
To assist and care for seniors, minors, dependants, the disabled, or people who are particularly vulnerable.
In cases of force majeure or of necessity.
Any other activity that is, by its nature, justified.
Vehicles may take to the roads for any of the aforementioned activities, as well as to refuel at gas stations.
Limits to commercial activity, restaurants and leisure centers
All premises and establishments that carry out public-facing activity are closed, apart from those distributing foodstuffs and essential items.

Cafés and restaurants are shut, but they will be able to deliver food to people’s homes.

Public shows such as cinemas and theaters are closed, as well as sporting events, museums, etc.

All local fiestas and marches are suspended.

Ceremonies and religious sites
Civil and religious ceremonies, and services in places of worship, including funerals, can go ahead provided that there are no large crowds and that attendees maintain a distance of one meter from one another.

Reinforcements for the health system
Military personnel and health installations will be used to strengthen the national health system across Spain. The Health Ministry will ensure that production centers for health supplies continue to operate, including the temporary intervention of companies, private health establishments and pharmaceutical sector centers.

How will transport and supplies be regulated?
Rail and bus services can be reduced by 50% by operating companies. The authorities will guarantee the circulation of goods across all of Spain. The supply of tickets for travel available for reservation will be reduced by a third. The government will guarantee the supply of electricity, gas and oil, and the protection of infrastructure that is critical to services.

Is the supply of foodstuffs guaranteed?
The authorities guarantee the production, storage, transport and distribution of foodstuffs to the consumer. When necessary, the transport of produce will be under escort, and routes will be established to allow for the circulation of personnel, raw materials and finished products. To guarantee these supplies, the government has powers to mobilize the state security forces and the army.

Take note folks

The police are carrying out patrols in the towns of the Vega Baja to ensure people comply with the measures adopted in the State of Alarm

The declaration of the State of Alarm obliges us all to change our way of life for at least the next 15 days during which the Government has restricted the movement of people and vehicles, and decreed the closure of schools, bars, restaurants, cinemas and any other establishment that does not dispense essential goods to stop the expansion of the Coronavirus.

The restrictions to individual rights and freedoms reduce the use of the road and public life , both for pedestrians and for vehicles, for the following cases: acquisition of food, products pharmaceuticals or basic necessities, going to work, assistance to health centres, travel to financial institutions or for any activity of major cause or situation of need.

The local police of the different municipalities of the Vega Baja are calling for the residents to comply with these restrictions.  Bigastro Local Police remind us that we cannot take part in activities such as going for a run, walking the dog or going out on a bicycle.

Failure to comply with the rules and disobedience to the Authorities could lead to a fine of € 601 to € 30,000 explains the Local Police.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

No return to home

Jet2.com flights to Spain this morning e.g. Manchester to Alicante have turned around mid way and returned to Manchester. 

"Jet2 have cancelled all holidays in Spain and the Canary and Balearic islands 'with immediate effect'.

It comes after flights to Spain were returning to the UK after being turned around 'mid-air' this morning.

At least half a dozen flights are understood to have been affected on Saturday morning, according to website FlightRadar24.

In a statement, Jet 2 said: “In response to local measures introduced throughout Spain to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and activities including any water sports, we have taken the decision to cancel all flights to Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect.

"We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision."

“We are contacting our customers who are currently in these destinations, and who are due to travel, to advise them of their options, so we urge customers not to call us.

Full statement from TUI
Following local measures put in place by the Spanish Authorities, including closing some hotel facilities and the local bars, restaurants and beaches we have made the difficult decision to cancel holidays due to travel between 14 and 16 March.

Although there is currently no advice from the UK Government against travelling to Spain it would not be the holiday experience we would want for our customers.

We will proactively contact all customers due to travel to Alicante between 14 March and 16 March to offer alternative holiday options or offer a full-refund.

Any customers due to travel between 17 March and 23 March will be contacted about their holiday on Monday 16 March.


A video from the Health Centre Bigastro

A tale of two shops

Mercadona at San Louis yesterday looked as though it had been attacked by a swarm of ants. There was no toilet paper to be had, no loaves of bread nor any form of fresh meat, only a few cartons of eggs left, very few fresh vegetables even wine and spirits were in short supply.

Meanwhile, in Spar there was an air of calm. The shelves were full and shoppers were buying  normal quantities of goods.

People should take heed. Although there are now severe restrictions on opening of public places, shops (at least food shops) will remain open and the supply chain to them will be maintained. If people insist on panic buying then food shops will either have to close or limit the quantities that people buy. 

Maximum alert for coronavirus - Spain shuts down

 The Government of Spain and the Generalitat Valenciana have taken emergency measures  to try to slow the progress of the epidemic. Pedro Sánchez , in an extraordinary appearance, announced the state of alarm for at least 15 days through a royal decree that the Council of Ministers will approve today to deal with this health pandemic. In turn, after the postponement of popular festivals and the indefinite closure of schools, Ximo Puig decreed in the Community the closure of bars, restaurants, discos and gyms to avoid sources of contagion; announced the suspension of cultural activities; and took control of private healthcare.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the battle will be long, but he showed firm conviction. "We are going to beat this virus," he said. It is your most urgent challenge. The contagion advances unstoppably and the numbers are devastating. The cases have risen to  4,231 infected and 121 people have already died , according to the count of the Ministry of Health. In the Valencian Community there are already 148 cases - yesterday thirty more in a single day, among them the one of the general director of Public Health - and the first death has been registered in Alicante. The Government, as Pedro Sánchez himself explained, is considering that the 10,000 infected will be reached in the coming days.


From Madrid to Valencia
The outbreak of the pandemic has led to drastic measures in all communities. Both the Prime Minister and the Head of the Consell, Ximo Puig, insisted on the responsibility of citizens to avoid concentration in public spaces, as emphasized by all health professionals. The Valencian Government has decreed the closure of all cultural, sports and leisure activities, both public and private spaces, as well as day and occupational centers in the Community to limit the spread of the virus. This was announced by the President of the Generalitat, who after presiding over a new meeting of the table for prevention and action against the coronarivus, indicated that these are "necessary measures to combat this situation".

The meaures include the suspension of the opening to the public of cultural centres, museums, theatres, libraries, cinemas, cancellation of shows on public roads as well as all sports events. In addition, the closing of discotheques is decreed, the activity of bars, restaurants, cafes, bullfighting in the bullring, the bous al carrer celebrations and animal shows are suspended. Limit movement on the street.

However, they made it clear that the suspension of the hospitality industry does not affect the food delivery service that these establishments are deploying. It also includes the closing of gyms, swimming pools and establishments where sports activities take place. In the social sphere, the activity of day centers, occupational centers, early care centers and day centers is suspended. After meeting with distribution companies in the commercial sector and consumer associations to analyze the situation, Ximo Puig wanted to thank the attitude of the Valencian citizens towards this situation and indicated that during these days all the measures they consider necessary to combat this situation will be taken », Which did not rule out adopting new resolutions.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Eating in

Bar Pujante are offering a take away or home delivery service to bigastrense.

"Stay at home, we know that it is a complicated situation, and it is time to be cautious, for this we have enabled the service to take home and pick up at the premises, the minimum order for home delivery will be 20 euros. Telephone 639136108 we also accept whatsapps
Service available from 20:30 to 23:00 Friday and Saturday".

Cause for concern?

In Madrid there are reported to be 1,400 cases of Covid-19 with at least 56 deaths according to Murcia Today. NB Those figures may have risen since publication.

Yet there are suggestions that madrilenas are still coming to the Vega Baja for their 2 week holidays. People here are rightly complaining that these visitors may be spreading the virus to our region.

Stop the lies

In times of crisis, there are always those who will spread misinformation and lies. There are NO reported cases of Covid-19 in Bigastro. 

Precautionary measures




Thursday, March 12, 2020

Precaution

It is likely that we will see many events cancelled. Valencia has already cancelled the Fallas for this year. 

Coronavirus explained












Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Two for the weekend



Monday, March 02, 2020

That was some blow

The good news is that this evening it will all calm down. 

For the ladies