Inland areas of Valencia and Castellón provinces are still on red alert over this weekend as they await further downfalls of snow from Storm Filomena. Emergency services are telling people not to drive in snowy areas unless absolutely necessary. They are also asking people not to go and visit the snow as it hampers the job of keeping the roads clear.
Storm Filomena has been hitting the region hard for the past couple of days leaving thousands of pupils unable to attend school and hundreds of roads affected.
School was cancelled on Friday in 48 towns, although many pupils throughout the region stayed away from school on Thursday and Friday because of the cold temperatures and bad weather.
Many roads were closed to heavy vehicles, others would only allow vehicles with snow chains, and rescue services have been working around the clock rescuing stranded motorists.
Valencian president Ximo Puig has also called for people to take notice of the emergency services and not to travel to see the snow today or tomorrow.
Todo el dispositivo de #nevadas de CPBC está trabajando . La situación está complicada en toda la provincia y la previsión es que siga nevando. Insistimos en NO CIRCULAR por carreteras afectadas por nieve. En caso de emergencia llama al 112. pic.twitter.com/9sVr2C35O9
— CPBC (@SIAB_Castellon) January 9, 2021
‘Christmas effect’ sees soaring infection rates and hospital admissions
A new record of daily infections has been set today (Saturday) with 6,240 new cases of Covid-19 reported in a 24-hour period in the Valencia region.
The new high comes two days after the region reached a new record of hospital admissions. Figures released on Thursday showed there were 2,254 people in the region’s hospitals, the highest number in any region and also a new record for Valencia, even higher than the figures for March during the ‘first wave’ of the pandemic.
Due to the worsening situation, the department headed by Valencian health minister Ana Barceló has started taking action with a series of directives issued on Friday. All non-urgent surgery and non-priority tests will be postponed, follow-up appointments and initial GP appointments will be carried out by telephone. Meanwhile hospital visits will be strictly limited to one companion if needed to help care for long-term patients, minors and dependent patients. Pregnant women admitted to give birth are considered dependents.
The health department has also instructed the hospitals which oversee the ‘field hospitals’, Valencia’s La Fé, and the General Hospital in Alicante and Castellón, to ready their emergency hospitals to be put into use as quickly as possible should they be needed. Meanwhile all the beds at Valencia’s Ernest Lluch Hospital (the old La Fé) will become usable beds.
Click here for all previous reports on: Coronavirus in Spain
Given the constantly increasing numbers of hospital admissions following the festive period, the health department is trying to make more beds available wherever possible through other measures, such as converting single hospital rooms into doubles and concentrating all Covid-19 patients in a single location where a town or city has more than one hospital. Non-Covid critical patients are preferably to be moved to private hospitals, if it’s possible near their homes, and cancer patients will be taken, as a priority, to the IVO (Valencian Oncology Institute), otherwise to private hospitals.
The mass vaccination of frontline health workers began across the region on Friday and will continue throughout the weekend. Meanwhile vaccinations in residences continue.
ALSO READ: New restrictions in Valencia region
Winter storm and pandemic but schools must stay open
A mayor who closed his town’s schools for two days has been ordered to re-open them. Sollana, in the Ribera Baixa area of Valencia, is one of the 29 towns in the Valencia region to have a perimetral closure under the government’s latest restrictions which came into effect on Thursday and has an accumulated incidence of 1,446 and 70 positive cases in the past 14 days.
Given the Covid-19 situation plus the weather, the mayor, Vicente Codoñer, took the decision on Wednesday to close the town’s primary school and secondary school until Monday 11 January, meaning pupils would miss two days of classes. However, the education department contacted the schools on Thursday and ordered them to return to classes immediately.
The mayor said: ‘We will comply with the decision, but we don’t share it. We cannot understand why, faced with the epidemiological and meteorological situation that we are, pupils need to come to school. It makes no sense. As far as we’re concerned, they’ve made the wrong decision.’
According to the education department, the mayor had no remit to cancel classes as he did. The head of the department, Vicente Marzà, repeated his message that schools must be the last places to close.
Three Kings Parade row
A row has broken out this week following a procession of the Three Kings through the heart of Valencia to the city hall building on Tuesday evening.
Due to the pandemic, all parades, which traditionally see streets across the region lined with thousands of spectators, were banned this year. However, it was decided to allow their majesties to visit the mayor in Valencia city as usual but without a large procession, without publicising their route or what time they would be passing through. Unfortunately, as the kings were filmed and broadcast on local television, À Punt, and updates were posted on social media, large numbers of people still gathered to see their arrival, provoking much criticism of the council for organising the event, albeit on a much smaller scale. Valencia health minister, Ana Barceló, retweeted photos of the crowds, describing the scenes as ‘lamentable’.
Esta imagen y sus consecuencias eran evitables si se hubieran cumplido las recomendaciones de Sanidad. Debía evitarse a toda costa la concentración de personas. Lamentable. https://t.co/GYT0UoGZ1o
— Ana Barceló Chico (@anabarcelochico) January 5, 2021
On Friday the People’s Party (PP) presented a lawsuit of nearly 30 pages against the city council, saying that the event had never been secret as they claimed.
Leader of the PP in Valencia city, María José Catalá, said ‘the facts are very serious as it concerns a public administration which should be setting an example and caring for the health of its citizens, which is why this action cannot go unpunished.’ She added that the city’s mayor, Joan Ribó of the Ciudadanos (Cs) party, should at least apologise.
ALSO READ (18/12/20): Valencia Region tightens its Covid-19 restrictions from 21 Dec to 15 Jan
Newborn baby beats Covid-19
A newborn baby who contracted Coronavirus at just nine days of age and subsequently spent 70 days in a special baby care unit, has now gone home.
Petru, who was born, ‘perfectly well’ in Valencia’s Vithas 9 de Octubre Hospital, caught the illness at home from his brother who was asymptomatic.
Just before leaving the hospital on Thursday, his tearful mother, Cristina, thanked staff ‘from the heart’.
Click here for all our reports from the Valencia Region
ALSO READ: New restrictions in Valencia region