Coronavirus - numbers rise again but trend is down

As widely expected, Spain recorded 743 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the latest Health Ministry figure, the first rise in daily deaths in four days.

The number was expected given that there has been an underreporting of figures on Sundays and Mondays since the beginning of the crisis.

There were 637 coronavirus deaths reported on Monday, the lowest daily death toll seen in the country seen since March 24, when there were 514.

The total number of deaths now stands at 13,798, with confirmed infections at 140,510, a rise of 5,478 in the last 24 hours.

A total of 43,208 people have recovered from Covid-19 and have been discharged from hospital, sustaining the rise of more than 6% of the total seen in the past few days.

One of those was Marbella schoolboy Adrian, pictured above with the team of doctors and nurses at the Hospital Costa del Sol.

Dr María José Sierra from the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts commented, “It is normal for there to be certain fluctuations in the data, especially after a weekend. What is important is to look at the trend and the accumulated [data] from the past few days. We believe this small upturn is not important,“ she explained.

The health expert said that regions “are starting to see a certain drop in pressure in the ICUs,“ and that 30% of all confirmed cases had been discharged from hospital


Coronavirus - number falls again

We may be over the worst of it.


Monday's Press Briefing in Madrid saw the lowest total of fatalities from coronavirus - 637 - since March 24.

This follows 674 Covid-19-related deaths on Sunday, and 809 on Saturday. The steady decrease suggests that the confinement measures are finally having an effect on the number of victims.

Dr María José Sierra from the Health Ministry’s Coordination Centre for Health Alerts, commented the figures “confirmed a falling trend for another day. We are observing that the growth rate of the pandemic is falling in nearly all regions. More than 40,000 people have been discharged.”

In Marbella the Costa del Sol Hospital also showed a drop in coronavirus patients being treated from a high of 60 on March 30 to 44 on Friday, In addition seven patients were sent home at the weekend having made a full recovery.


Sunday Morning Mutterings - Lockdown and Out

So now we know that the the State of Emergency – or should I say Alarm, which is Level 1 – will continue to the end of the month.

On the basis of the past two weeks I don’t know what Level 3 is but am pretty sure that resembles the game “Statues” from my 70s childhood. You have to stand frozen on the spot until the State of Emergency is lifted. Otherwise the forces of law and order have the power to fine/detain/blast you with water canon/all of the previous.

With the country in lockdown I counted my blessings for a number of reasons. Firstly because of the beautiful house that I live in, surrounded by land and overlooking a lake. Even the friendly Policia Locales from the village (there are four and you don’t dial an emergency number, you dial their mobile) agreed that if you had to sit out the lockdown, the Casita was a rather splendid place to be.

As someone who spends most of their time pottering around, reading trivia, talking to myself, playing obscure music and staring vacantly into the middle distance – and that’s just on air at the radio station – the lockdown hasn’t really made that much difference to me.

The meltdown reaction to many people on social media raised a wry smile, but for bookworms, gamers, model makers and the like the lockdown has been geek heaven. On a purely selfish note, on the occasions that I have had to sally forth from the Casita, the road has been blissfully free from cyclists, which, as you know by now, are the bane of my life.

I was thinking that this whole coronavirus malarkey was something of a walk in the park that wouldn’t really affect me. And then one of my best friends posted a shocking photograph that his wife had taken.

Diagnosed with COVID-19, he experienced chest pains and paramedics rushed to his house at 5am. He told me later that it felt like he had been “hit by the house”. I’m both pleased and relieved to report that he is on the road to recovery.

But please, wash your hands, self isolate and stay in the f***king house!


Coronavirus. The numbers drop but the state of alarm goes on

The Good News First - Spain has seen a drop in the number of people dying from COVID-19 for the second day in a row.

The number of deaths related to coronavirus now stands at 11,744 - up from 10,935 the previous day. The 809 extra deaths in the last 24 hours was down from 932 on Friday, and the lowest number of daily deaths seen in seven days

And now the Bad News

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a new extension to a COVID-19 lockdown, which was declared three weeks ago in a bid to slow the coronavirus outbreak, until April 26.

So it's back to the Netflix binge sessions for most of us...


Spanish authorities list accomodation options for stranded Brits

The Spanish authorities have published a list of hotels and short-stay accommodation that will remain open during the state of emergency.

Whilst mainly intended for workers, they will also be available for tourists who have been unable to return home and include the BlueBay Banus in Marbella (pictured).

British Ambassador Hugh Elliott said: “This is a very difficult time for British nationals who find themselves currently unable to get back to the UK and we welcome this announcement by the Spanish authorities that some hotels and short-stay accommodation will remain open during the state of emergency.

:Such accommodation is mainly aimed at workers, but there will be options available for British travellers who have not been able to return to the UK yet.

"Meanwhile we are in close contact with airlines to ensure those of you who wish to return home are able to do so in the coming days. More generally, if you live in the UK and are currently travelling in Spain, you should be making plans to return to the UK while there are still commercial routes available.

"As ever, stay up to date with the latest information by signing up to alerts at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain and join our BritsinSpain Facebook page www.facebook.com/britsinspain

The full list of hotels can be found here:https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2020/03/25/pdfs/BOE-A-2020-4027.pdf


Sunday Morning Mutterings - Lockdown Lowdown

If you read my previous Sunday Morning Mutterings, you will remember, probably with a shudder, that in my (admittedly peculiar case) one of the side effects of the coronavirus outbreak has been the fact that I can’t get cheesy pop songs out my head.

At
the beginning of the outbreak it was ‘My Corona’ sung to the tune of
‘My Sharona’ by The Knack. And since the announcement of the quarantine
the line ‘Got the city on lockdown’ from the song ‘Fly By’ by noughties
Boy Band Blue has been bouncing around my head.

To be honest, the quarantine hasn’t had that much of an effect on my lifestyle. True, the number of Press lunches may have plummeted, but apart from that I’m carrying on fairly much like before. Living in splendid isolation in a cottage by the lake, with the nearest neighbour about half a mile away, a generator for power and a large water deposit tank, I was all prepared for the breakdown of society.

Although, to be honest, I sort of hoped it would be the zombie apocalypse. I’m not entirely sure what I am going to do with the chainsaw/flamethrower hybrid that I constructed, though it could be useful to jump the queue at the supermarkets.

Being the 50-something male that I am, I’m not a huge fan of big shopping trips, preferring to get life’s essentials – coffee, cat food, con gas – from the smaller stores. So I looked on in bewilderment at the panic buying images that swamped social media.  ‘Why does anyone need that amount of toilet roll?’ I asked myself ‘Surely half a dozen Pot Noodles, baked beans and a family size pack of dry Whiskers will suffice?”

But in the current uncertainty, who knows what will work against the virus? And it’s for this reason that I’m writing this particular post from the safety of my vast and impregnable fortress of loo roll!


Coronavirus upadate for British Tourists

The British Embassy has published a new video from British Ambassador Hugh Elliott aimed at British tourists in Spain.

Some of the main points are

Hotels:

The Spanish Government has ordered that hotels and short-stay accommodation must close by midnight on 26 March. These instructions do not apply to long-stay accommodation where people can cater for themselves. The local authorities may ask British travellers to move hotels, as guests are grouped into smaller numbers of hotels, but they have underlined that no-one will be left without accommodation. We advise British tourists in Spain who wish to return to the UK to make travel plans to do so as soon as possible.

Travel:

Flights are still operating between Spain and the UK, albeit at reduced levels. If you need to book a new flight or bring your return journey forward you should check the airlines websites and flight comparison sites. You may need to be flexible about your destination airport in the UK. Airlines and ferry companies are experiencing a high volume of calls. Check their websites for the latest information. We are working closely with airlines to ensure that flights continue to operate and that British nationals can get home as soon as possible.

Driving through France:

Spain is not restricting land border crossings from Spain to France. To drive back through France, the French authorities require that you fill in a declaration to explain your reason for travel, you should also have evidence of your onward travel plan (ie ferry/rail ticket). Please check our travel advice page for France for the latest information. If you do not have access to the printer, you can write the declaration by hand. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france

British Ambassador Hugh Elliott said:

“As part of the effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Spanish Government has ordered the closure of all short-stay accommodation by Thursday 26 March.

"I want to reassure you that the Spanish authorities have told us very clearly that no one will be left without accommodation, however, it does make it even more important that you arrange your return journey as soon as possible. Flights are still operating from Spain to the UK and tens of thousands of British citizens have successfully returned to the UK in the past few days.

"Do consult your airline’s website for the latest information and if you need to book a new flight you can also try comparison websites. I know that in some places this is proving difficult. We are continuing to liaise with the airlines and Spanish authorities as the situation evolves. We will update our advice regularly. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.”

The latest message from HMA Hugh Elliott to UK Nationals is at https://www.facebook.com/BritsInSpain/videos/254152722274096/

In addition there is a  Q&A to address some of the most frequently asked questions at www.facebook.com/britsinspain


PM convines COVID-19 group as over 3000 infected in 24 hours

Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez held the first meeting today with the Scientific Committee of COVID-19, a group of scientists and professionals dedicated to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Spain.

Held by videoconference from Moncloa, the initial group of six scientists may be expanded with the incorporation of national and international experts in different fields of Medicine and Science in the fight against the coronavirus. The government has already put 24 million euros into the COVID-19 Fund to  finance new preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic tools that improve the knowledge and management of the disease.

The pandemic, however, shows no signs of slowing. At today's Press conference the figures announced were 24, 926 cases (up 3,355) with 1,612 in intensive care (204 more than yesterday). Total deaths now stand at 1,345 (up 223) while 2,125 had recovered (540 more than yesterday),

In other news, police and Guardia Civil are continuing to step up roadblocks and checks over the weekend, to prevent travel to second homes. The DGT also announced today that driving licences that expire during the current State of Alarm will be valid for 60 days after the current crisis passes, and that foreign driving licences will be regarded as valid.



Trafico gets tough

Expect to see more police traffic controls over the weekend. The DGT and Civil Guard have set up traffic checkpoints on major routes out of large cities to prevent weekend trips to second homes.

There was widespread outcry when a large number of Madrid residents fled the capital, the area with the most conoravirus infections, to spend quarentine in their holiday homes.

Since yesterday the Civil Guardia Civil has set up 30,000 roadblocks and this number will be reinforced throughout the weekend in order to monitor compliance with the imposed traffic restrictions.

Since the declaration of the State of Alarm  Saturday, March 14, the freedom of movement of people has been limited, with only a trips to buy food, petrol and other essentials allowed. The DGT has unlined the fact they will be strictly enforcing the new rules.


Hitmen in Marbella murder case arrested

A joint operation between National Police and the Amsterdam Police has resulted in the breakup one of the most active hitman gangs in Europe. 

The group was allegedly involved in ten murders, including Marbella businessman Marco Yaqout (below),who was gunned down in his car in the garage of his home in January 2019.

Six people have been arrested, four in Spain and two in the Netherlands. Four of the gang were intercepted as they travelled through Spain to carry out a new  “commission”. A semi-automatic pistol with a silencer and  ammunition was recovered during the arrests.

After a year long investigation agents were able to identify the members of the criminal group, a professional organisation whose members used encrypted mobile phones in their communications.

Collaboration with the Dutch police made it possible to identify the members, who mainly operated in the Netherlands. The group worked "for hire" from different criminal organisations, settling outstanding accounts with members of other gangs with whom they were at odds, either due to a "power struggle" or as a consequence of disputes generated by illegal operations.

During the investigation Police discovered that four members of the network  were planning a new "order", the objective of which was in Spain.
They were located and detained when they entered Spanish territory aboard a vehicle.

At the same time, the Dutch police carried out two more arrests and several searches in homes in Netherlands, completely dismantling the criminal structure.