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New Covid cases push Formentera to tier 2 protocol

foto 2020 covid nivell 2Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer and Balearic government spokeswoman Pilar Costa appeared before representatives of the media to offer an assessment of the epidemiological situation on Formentera.

Ferrer explained that the island’s government had opted to press the Govern balear for tighter restrictions in a bid to curb local spread of Covid-19. The Balearic ministry of health will approve raising the pandemic response to tier 2 on Monday, with the change to take effect 22 December, a day later. Once again the president encouraged islanders to be responsible in the run-up to Christmas, and stressed the importance of establishing “stable bubbles” for the festivities ahead.

“Caution and responsibility are crucial”, said Pilar Costa. “Fortunately the islanders who have tested positive show mild symptoms or none at all, but viral loads and contagion capacity mean we need to exercise the utmost caution. We’re asking everyone to keep playing by the rules; if we protect ourselves we’ll protect our loved ones too.”

Epidemiological developments
For the seven-day period starting 11 December, local cases out of 100,000 more than quadrupled when they leapt from 74 to 300. The week brought diagnosis of 35 new infections, thirty in the previous three days. At the same time, the rate of positive tests has climbed from 8.6% to 19.6% to more than double.

Levels under both indicators easily surpass European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s benchmarks —3% positivity and 60 cases per 100,000— to qualify an area as at risk.

Vulnerable individuals are prevalent among the new infections: islanders over 65 now represent 273.4 cases in 100,000; on 11 December, the figure was zero.

Finally, traceability has fallen among the new cases: 60% on 11 December, the figure has dropped to 50% a week later.

Key changes
Passage from tier 1 to 2 will mean the adoption of more restrictive measures: the twenty-person limit on outdoor gatherings will be halved, going from ten to six for indoor spaces. Bars and restaurants must additionally reduce capacity depending on the risk levels they face: medium risk establishments with space for 50 will need to cap admission at 70%; spaces where capacity normally exceeds 50 may accept no more than half that number. High risk establishments must fix capacity at 40%. Until now up to ten individuals could be sat at the same indoor table; the number will now be lowered to six. Under tier 2 protocol bar and restaurant managers can fill outdoor seating to 75% of normal capacity or a maximum of ten to a table, while under tier 1 standards the per-table limit was 15. Tier 2 protocol means bar service is also against the rules, as are, in another key change, traditional feast day celebrations.

19 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Haemodialysis service

foto 2020 carta dialisiFRANCINA ARMENGOL
PRESIDENTA DEL GOVERN DE LES ILLES BALEARS
CARRER DE LA LLOTJA, 3
07012 PALMA (ILLES BALEARS)

Formentera, 17 December 2020

Madame President,

Healthcare services at the national and regional levels are deeply impacted by the public health crisis in which we are today immersed. We are aware of this fact, as we are aware of efforts in the Balearics to guarantee a quality public service for all, no matter the illness. Nevertheless, the declaration of emergency orders affected certain islanders particularly, and some of these circumstances have yet to be put right, requiring immediate attention. I am referring to dialysis treatments.

Under the state of emergency, dialysis patients residing on Formentera were made to travel to Eivissa receive treatment. Severely reduced ferry service meant this was no easy endeavour, as it amounted to spending an entire day on our sister island. The situation would be inconvenient for any Formentera resident, but in this case those affected were people suffering ill health.

The patients’ situation has remained unchanged since the lifting of emergency orders. They are still called upon to travel to Eivissa, an undertaking that involves three days per week of ferry travel at the very least.

We must put ourselves in the places of these doubly vulnerable individuals. The first risk they face is on account of the chronic illnesses they suffer. The second is on account of Covid-19. Frequent travel magnifies both.

These individuals’ suffering has galvanised islanders’ sense of solidarity, apparent in the 2,829 signatures which we share with you today. In September, plenary members of the Consell de Formentera voted to urge the regional government to reinstate dialysis on Formentera, not least because our hospital, having already provided the service in the past, is already equipped with the necessary machinery and personnel. In June representative Sílvia Tur proposed a non-legislative motion for debate in the Balearic commission on health, and more recently, local decision makers approved an amendment to the Formentera budget creating funding to reinstate the service.

I, myself, as president, have had the opportunity to sit down with an association of Formentera dialysis patients and to hear their description of the situation.

These patients and I speak for the Consell de Formentera and all of the undersigned when we insist on the following point: There must be a way to reinstate dialysis treatment on Formentera and improve the quality of life of these already vulnerable patients.

May the signatures collected and here attached support our call for a hasty restitution of dialysis service, taking into account the ongoing public health crisis and the affected individuals’ distinct vulnerability.

We welcome any efforts to respond to this issue in greater depth, and to shape collaboration or proposals to deliver resolution.

Cordially,

Patient representatives

Alejandra Ferrer
President, Consell Insular de Formentera

Formentera asks for stricter controls to ensure compliance with Covid measures

foto 2020 reunio seguretat brot 2Amid a rise in cases of islanders affected by Covid-19, a special emergency meeting was held today to coordinate controls and inspection operations by security forces like Formentera Local Police, Civil Guard and emergency response services of the Govern balear.

The gathering was attended by Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer, vice-president and trade councillor Ana Juan, interior councillor Josep Marí, inspection services councillor Antonio J. Sanz, FLP chief Félix Ramos and representatives of the Civil Guard and regional emergency response service.

President Ferrer expressed her concern over seven new local infections that brought the total number of individuals on the island affected by Covid to 26, up from seven two days ago. The individuals in question, all of whom either display mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, are receiving at-home care from healthcare workers.

Given the current state of play and predictions that Covid cases will continue to multiply, President Ferrer said the Consell had asked security forces to “coordinate and tighten controls and educational efforts, particularly in enclosed spaces like retail outlets and restaurants and outdoor areas like parks, plazas and beaches, in order to ensure strict compliance with local public health measures”.

Ferrer said that later today the Consell would ask the regional government about a change in the response level, or tougher measures before the Christmas holiday, “in an effort to contain the virus right now”.

Updating protocol
Setting out to reduce spread of the virus as much as possible, attendees of the internal working meeting revised protocol and safety measures in place at gatherings which are hosted by local government and Consell-backed sporting events.

The president additionally announced that the Formentera Mostra de Músics originally set to take place at 6.00pm tomorrow (Friday 18 December) and 12 noon on Sunday the 20th would be postponed due to the public health situation. The Consell de Formentera and Musical Formentera opted to suspend the programme as several members of participating bands had been in close contact with the individuals who contracted the disease.

Ferrer also appealed for “careful monitoring” to make sure that the close contacts in question respected quarantine orders.

Finally, the president called on islanders to “be responsible. This is a very complex situation and we need to work together. We hope that when the vaccine arrives we’ll be able to put this behind us, but it’s important we all make it through this, each and every one of us”.

17 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Alejandra Ferrer urges islanders to double down on Covid-19 precautions

President calls meeting tomorrow Thursday to coordinate safety response

Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer has asked island residents to intensify Covid-19- related precautions. Pointing to the discovery of 11 local cases, Ferrer asserted, “Now more than ever, we need to be extremely strict about respecting public health measures”.

New Covid infections had progressively fallen since the end of summer, with the island reporting a five-day stretch of zero cases from 2 December. But the Consell has insisted the island keep its collective guard up since the crisis began, reiterating that Formentera’s flatlining case count didn’t mean islanders were free to forget about the pandemic. “At the present moment Covid still claims hundreds of lives every day and continues its inexorable march across the planet”, said the president.

Infections have been up since 7 December, coinciding with the long weekend early in the month. “Yesterday, 15 December, we had 7 active cases”, said Ferrer, “and with the latest flare-up, we’re at 19, including one newly hospitalised individual and two freshly declared infections. So I’m issuing a special plea to the island as a whole: now is no time to relax.”

Gathering of security forces
The president has announced an emergency meeting on safety for 1.00pm tomorrow, Thursday 17 December, to coordinate control operations and inspections among security forces like Formentera Local Police, the Civil Guard and regional emergency response teams. Local police have additionally prepared a strategy to tighten controls and ensure protocol compliance at indoor spaces and public areas.

“These are unique circumstances and they run counter to how we normally function as a collective, particularly with Christmas on the horizon. But remember, more than gathering for the holidays, what’s important is that we’re all in good health for celebrations still to come. The public health situation has gotten worse since the long weekend and, if things continue, we’re not ruling out the option of urgently calling for more restrictive protocol before Christmas.”

Lastly, Ferrer voiced her hope that the islanders infected with Covid-19 —currently at home with mild symptoms or asymptomatic— recover quickly, and she asked that those individuals’ close contacts help curb further spread by respecting preventive measures and quarantine orders.

16 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Letter regarding inter-island controls

FRANCINA ARMENGOL
PRESIDENT, GOVERN DE LES ILLES BALEARS
CARRER DE LA LLOTJA, 3
07012 PALMA (ILLES BALEARS)

Madame President,

The approaching holidays will mean a marked increase in mobility, not just between the Balearic Islands and mainland Spain, but between the islands too — a situation quite similar to the one expected with the long weekend in early December.

Several days ago you proposed implementing from 20 December various controls (PCR screenings at points of departure, antigen tests at ports and airports) on visitors to the Balearics. The subject of inter-island travellers, however, was left unmentioned.

The current situation is different on each island, and we know that the smallest of actions can carry drastic consequences.

For example, many teachers on Formentera hail from assorted corners of Mallorca, a place at high risk of Covid-19 infections. Should these teachers spend the holidays with their families —a decision that would be entirely understandable and deserving of our respect— the fallout from returning Covid-19 cases that elude detection and tracing could be disastrous. Considering teachers’ contact with Formentera children, the situation could set off an avalanche of outbreaks. On a small island like ours and given the healthcare infrastructure we share with Eivissa, the effects would be difficult to gauge or contain.

The same would occur when individuals who study on Mallorca came to Formentera spend the holidays with their families, or when their families went to visit them.

These are but two examples that illustrate our current situation, and they could be extrapolated across the Balearic Islands.

So we at the Consell de Formentera wish to express our concern. In order to guarantee everyone’s right to a safe return, control measures for inter-island travellers must be identical to those applied to travellers from outside the region.

Travel within the region is envisaged under emergency orders, but high case counts on particular islands warrant a volunteer system of controls to stem inter-island spread of Covid-19.

And so, Balearic residents who stay more than 72 hours on an island with over 150 cases per hundred thousand inhabitants should be able to opt for free, scheduled screenings, the same as those offered during the long weekend earlier this month.

On Formentera we’ve always asked that measures be commensurate to our situation, and that doesn’t mean forgetting the solidarity that’s now more vital than ever. The curfew was our occasion to demonstrate just how seriously we take this cohesion. Today we are in phase one of lockdown, but the situation could change from one day to the next. Timely preventive measures are our primary means of making sure it doesn’t.

The Consell de Formentera is at your service for any collaboration we can offer.

Cordially,

Alejandra Ferrer Kirschbaum
President, Consell Insular de Formentera

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