Sunday, March 07, 2021

Easter will likely be cancelled

Spain’s has has made a preliminary agreement with the regions to extend the current coronavirus restrictions on social activity over Easter week. 

Regions will remain under a perimeter lockdown, meaning no one can enter or leave without a justified reason, such as going to work. 

The regions also agreed to set a curfew between 10pm and 6am during Easter week and to ban large events where crowds form, meaning Spain’s Easter processions are likely to be cancelled.

Other measures include a four-person limit on social gatherings in both private and public spaces, regardless of whether they take place indoors or outdoors, and recommendations against members of different households gathering inside the home or other indoor spaces. 

Traditionally, many who own second homes in this area come from Madrid to enjoy an Easter break. Hopefully, they will stay away this year because the incidence of cases in Madrid (253 per 100,000) is the highest of all the regions on the mainland. 

A crazy winter

 Taken from El Pais

From the biggest snowfall in a century and an exceptional cold snap, to unseasonable highs, this winter has gone from one extreme to another in Spain, swinging within a temperature range of 50ºC. 

Intense northerly winds in late December brought an arctic air mass to the peninsula, which became stagnant and continued to cool. The interaction between this mass and Storm Filomena’s air flow, which was very humid and relatively warm, caused a massive snowfall, the scale of which had not been seen in Madrid since 1904.

A second cold snap followed in the wake of Filomena, breaking five records for the lowest minimum temperature. But it wasn’t only the minimum temperatures that were below freezing: the thermometer barely rose during daylight hours either, so two records for the lowest maximum temperatures were also broken. 

Within 10 days, the pendulum had swung in the opposite direction, with unusually high temperatures that broke 20 records. On January 29, temperatures reached almost 30ºC in Alicante, the highest temperature ever recorded in January by AEMET. Between the -25.2ºC felt that day in Molina, in Castilla-La Mancha, and the 29.8ºC reading in Alicante, there was a difference of 55ºC, an unprecedented temperature range in Spain.

Meanwhile, Storm Hortense triggered a bizarre meteorological episode on January 22. Even more staggering is the fact that the phenomenon was repeated on February 5. And, to cap it all, there were two very intense episodes of suspended dust in February. The first one caused a muddy downpour that reached as far as the Pyrenees, where it turned the snow a deep shade of ochre in a weather event not seen for 30 years.


We were promised rain



And boy are we getting it. Looking out the window I can see my pool filling up and are concerned that I may find a lot more water in my pool box. I just hope it doesn't get into the pump. 

On a positive note, it will have washed all that brown dust off our cars. 

UPDATE

The rain has eased off so I went out to examine the box. The water was just below the pump so I waited until the rain stopped and used my bilge pump to bail the water out. 


 

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Government priorities

NHS staff in the UK are to be awarded a 1% pay increase which Matt Hancock says is fair and all that can be afforded. They were promised 2.1% but that was before the pandemic. 

Meanwhile:

1. The UK  government is  prepared to spend £2.6 million on a briefing room so it can start daily press conferences.  This has been described by the BBC as another vanity project by the PM.

2. It is also said that the Prime Minister's girlfriend is spending £200,000 refurbishing the flat above No 11 Downing Street and possibly a further £5,000 to replace the carpets that their rescue dog has spoiled. The allegations go on to assert that the PM is looking to find ways to foot the bill by using Conservative Party funds. 

3. The Government have  agreed a £340.000 settlement with Sir Philip Putman who quit amid bullying claims against the Home Secretary, Priti Patel. His resignation led the Cabinet Office to launch an inquiry into whether Ms Patel had broken the code governing ministers' behaviour.

Boris Johnson's standards chief Sir Alex Allan found that she had - but the PM rejected his findings and kept her in post. Sir Alex resigned in response.

4. The Queen’s official fleet of planes is to be sold off as part of defence cuts in a move that will force her to borrow Boris Johnson’s Union Flag jet.

With no plans for a replacement for the four BAE-146 passenger jets, the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have to share the Prime Minister’s RAF Voyager plane, which received a controversial £900,000 makeover last year.

5. Last year, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) examined how firms were awarded contracts — including many without competition — worth £18bn to secure essentials such as PPE equipment in the initial months of the pandemic.

The NAO also noted: “A number of contracts were awarded retrospectively, or have not been published in a timely manner.

It is alleged that some of those contracts were awarded to friends and acquaintances of Government Ministers and at least one was for gowns that were not suitable for use.

The list cold go on and on. For example, we could look at the huge amount that was wasted on Test, Track and Trace and the weekly bill for consultants that support this project. 

 Brexit was supposed to deliver £350m per week that could be used to support the NHS. That is what it said on the bus. Of course it was a lie, instead Brexit has cost the country hundreds of millions of pounds.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Bring back the sun

At this time of year we expect rain, we need rain to top up the reservoirs for the long dry summer to come. However, we haven't had any rain to talk about for 53 days. 

This week we haven't seen the sun either and everything outside is covered in a layer of brown dust. When I look for my car in a car park, I am searching for a petrol blue car not a dirty brown one. 

It seems that we haven't finished with that dust yet. There could well be rain over the weekend that will bring more mud with it.  


 

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Vaccines in Bigastro

 The Health Centre was a hive of activity this morning with a procession of people arriving for their Covid jabs. There was even a team  prepared to give an injection outside to those who could not make it inside 

Those who were called needed to hand over their SIP card to allow the staff to record who had been injected. 

Since Spain is only giving the Pfizer vaccine to people over 55, it must have been that one that was being dolled out today. However, France and I believe Germany are now reconsidering their decision to only give the Astra Zeneca vaccine to younger people. It is likely that Spain will follow suit and will also consider delaying the second dose to allow more people to gain some protection. 

We await the phone call with baited breath.

The street is not the place for rubbish

Clearing the rubbish that someone has dumped on Calle Holanda.



 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Get a grip Spain!

 This report from El Pais paints a less than encouraging picture of the vaccine rollout in Spain. 

Organizational problems are hampering Spain’s Covid-19 vaccination drive. While the country at one point was administering nearly all of the vaccines that were delivered, this is no longer the case. As more doses have arrived and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been integrated into the program, the difference between the number of jabs received and those administered has grown. Healthcare representatives say this is largely due to organizational problems. While the first phase of the vaccination drive targeted staff and residents in care homes, as well as frontline health workers, who are easy to locate and bring together, the next stage has been extended to essential workers under the age of 55 and people 80 years and over, which is presenting logistical challenges.

Although the regions – which are responsible for handling the response to the pandemic and the Covid vaccination drive – have launched this next phase at different speeds, the overall trend is clear. On February 2, Spain had administered 94% of all Covid doses it had received. This figure fell to 90% on February 9 and to 87% on February 23. Last week, it dropped again to 75%. The figures from last week are the most recent as Spain has not yet had time to administer the last shipment of Covid vaccines: 886,880 new doses, the largest delivery to date. It won’t be known until next Tuesday whether Spain’s vaccination drive is slowing down or picking up after starting the inoculation of the next priority groups.

The difference between the number of doses delivered and those administered is greatest with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved after the candidates from Pfizer and Moderna. The Spanish Health Ministry decided to only use the AstraZeneca vaccine on people between the ages of 18 and 55, due to the lack of clinical evidence of its effectiveness in older demographics. This meant it needed to push forward a new priority group: essential workers, such as teachers, law-enforcement officers and firefighters, under the age of 55. On February 23 (the last day with comparable data), Spain had administered 95.5% of the doses from Pfizer, 70.8% from Moderna and just 33.7% from AstraZeneca.

On Thursday, Madrid began vaccinating essential workers in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium and people 80 years and over in healthcare centres. But the process has been mired in confusion, with nursing and doctors unions complaining of “improvisation and chaos.” These unions say the region sent out an out-of-date list of patients to be vaccinated, which included the names of the deceased. The Health Minister also says that the region continues to use syringes that cannot extract the sixth dose contained in each vial of the vaccine, meaning doses are continuing to go to waste.

Of course, the rollout in the UK will slow down as those that had the first shot of vaccine pass the 12 week point and require a second dose. In other words, the available vaccines will be required to provide full protection rather than inoculate more and more people.  Over 19 million have had the first dose but only 760,000 the second dose. The seven-day average for first doses is about 348,000 doses a day.

The Spanish Government currently estimates that they will be able to supply as many as 8.1 million doses per month during the spring. Let's hope they are right and perhaps more important, they get the doses available into people's arms. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Changes to the rules

From the 1st March.

  •  Outdoor meetings are increased to allow up to four people.
  • The municipal perimeter closure is eliminated on weekends in the 16 most populated cities in the Valencian Community, such as Orihuela and Torrevieja.
  • The hotel business is open until 6pm but only on the terraces and with a maximum of four people to a table and with a capacity of 75%
  • The opening hours of shops are extended until 8:00 p.m. and with a capacity of 50%.
  • Sports activities are reactivated as long as they are in open spaces, always without physical contact, in pairs or with a maximum of four people per monitor. The mask is not mandatory
  • The parks and gardens are opened and the capacity in places of worship and religious increases up to 50%.
  • Night mobility restrictions are maintained from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • The regional perimeter closure is extended to enter and leave the Valencian Community.

Advice from Her Majesty

Articles in the Daily Mail and Express tell us that the Queen has suggested that people should think of others rather than themselves when offered a Covid 19 jab. 

Both these papers excel in whipping up opinion. They bait their readers with inflammatory stories that they know will spark fury. In this case, they know that there are many anti royalists amongst those that read their papers who will react. The fact I can find no similar articles in papers like the Guardian, the Independant, the Telegraph etc. speaks volumes.

The following are comments from their readers: 

 The most over privileged self indulgent robbed us blind her entire life woman on this earth telling US to think of others lmfao - now you know for CERTAIN this 'jab' is anything but safe. All you people who thought this old person was just a hand waving money grabber know different now...she's up to her neck in control and always has been.

Propagandist mouthpiece to push the gullible serfs into being experimental lab rats.

You know how desperate they are when they wheel out the Queen to sell a lie! Seriously how could our government coerce/sell us something that has never been trailed* and if it injures or kills you nobody is liable? .....* I think he means trialled. 

The Mail claims that around 15 per cent of the population will not take up the offer of a jab, with scepticism highest among the young and minority ethnic groups. Those that read this could well come to the conclusion that there is an issue here and may decide to refuse the vaccine without any evidence to back up their choice. They may even chose to refuse the vaccine simply because the Queen suggests you should take it. 

On another note, I read that in Germany, people are refusing the Astra Zeneca vaccine because they believe others like the Pfizer one is more efficient especially in older age groups. A survey in Israel of people which includes elders who have received the Astra Zeneca jab completely disproves this. 

The truth is that some newspapers and broadcasters who claim to reflect opinion are in fact shaping it with their carefully crafted articles. Neither the Mail nor the Express criticise the Queen for her remarks, they leave that up to their readers. 


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Beware