# 9 LATEST Covid-19 UPDATES AND EVENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY as of Saturday, 21st March, 2020 20h

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

• The Minister of Health, Martínez Benazet, announced that doctors, nursing staff, university faculty and medical students had all been mobilized, along with students and teachers from scientific branches of study, to assist in the country’s health service.
• He highlighted guidelines for improving ones quality of life whilst staying at home, acknowledging that doing so for a long period of time can create psychological stress. Following some simple tips can make your stay more positive: establishing a daily routine incorporating exercises to improve your general fitness. Many examples can be found online. This is also an opportunity to take up hobbies you’ve always wanted to try, possibly studying those, too, online, reading more books and above all, keeping positive.
• The Minister reminded people of the possibility of calling a psychologist on 809 031 or by writing to [email protected] .
• Hopefully many of the healthcare professionals who are currently in quarantine, will soon be back at work.
• To avoid spreading the virus in El Cedre Retirement Home, the Ministry is looking into having the residents lodged in various empty hotels so there is more physical space between each individual.
• Here is a useful link to the WHO’s Covid-19 webpage. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 .
• Mari Pangestu, director of the World Bank since the 1st March, recognises that in some countries there aren’t enough test kits. However, she describes extensive testing as “the most important priority”, adding that “testing those who are symptomatic but not necessarily hospitalised and still spreading the virus is perhaps even more important”
• Andorra has started random testing of drivers at the roadside.

LATEST UPDATE ON ANDORRA’S C19 PATIENTS

• Numbers of new cases are flattening out which is excellent news and hopefully means the hospital won’t be inundated! Though there is still concern that there might be some more victims among the elderly.
88 people throughout the country are testing positive, 30 of them healthcare workers.
73 are currently at home including 2 at El Cedre where 9 have symptoms and are awaiting results.
Around 50 healthcare staff are at home in preventative quarantine.

RECOMMENDATIONS

• REMEMBER. If you think you might be getting C19: that is, you have a temperature and a cough and possibly ache all over, first ring your GP. If the fever or cough are bad, then ring the hospital emergency number 116. Someone will come out and asses you at home. DO NOT leave your house and/ or go anywhere near a health centre. Meanwhile ring every person you have been in touch with during the past 14 days and tell them that you have, or probably have, the virus, and that they, too, must go into complete quarantine in their home and not go out at all for the next 14 days. (See chart below to understand why.) This is very important, not only for yourself but for the whole population of Andorra. I have had phone conversations recently which have frankly shocked me by how little some people have grasped the seriousness of the situation clearly thinking, “This can’t happen to me!” It can.

• REMEMBER. Wash your hands with warm water and soap several times a day – more effective than disinfectant gel. When coughing and sneezing cover your mouth with a tissue and then throw it away. If not available, cough into the crook of your elbow. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, particles of the virus can remain airborne up to 3 hours after a person has coughed. They can then survive up to 4 hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard and 2 – 3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces. So always wash your hands when you come in from shopping.

• REMEMBER to wipe down all surfaces at home either with soap and water or with 60%+ alcohol including your computer and mobile phone And don’t forget the car – if you have to use it. After use, clean the steering wheel, the hand brake, the door handles and the various levers and buttons.

THE GOVERNMENT

• The Cap de Govern, Espot gave a major press conference yesterday evening – hence the length of this section. In it he said that the Police have started to monitor traffic in various parts of the country to prevent a minority of irresponsible people from jeopardizing the health and well-being of the majority. These controls will be maintained and strengthened in the coming days. “The Government will not hesitate to apply the present regulations firmly. A new decree will establish the mandatory nature of the measures, (such as to stay at home except for shopping by one person per household C.A.) There will be police controls in the shops and on the roads.
• On the financial side, the Government will inject €200 million into the country’s private sector. This plan includes €60 million in zero interest loans to companies to cover operating expenses, including the payment of salaries. €70 million, also at zero interest, will be for mortgages and credit payments contracted by the companies.
• Jover advised that, in the coming days, the government will increase information to the self-employed and business owners letting them know the different help available.
• In addition, the Government will pay the employer contributions of those companies whose activity was stopped by decree and those where they were only allowed to open when on duty. In the case of self-employed workers who have had to stop their activities, the Government will assume their entire dues.
• Xavier Espot carried on: “We will also cover 100% of the salaries of healthcare workers infected by COVID19 or confined at home due to suspicion of contagion. Other workers will be treated as if they are off-sick due to a work accident, so they can receive better benefits.”
• This relief programme will be complemented by significant discounts and exemptions from company rates for electricity distributors such as @AndorraTelecom and @FEDA_Andorra
• In the case of companies that have been confined to minimum services or duty shifts, 80% of their rent will be deducted from their business premises leases.
• Espot continued “We don’t know for sure how long the stoppage will be and under what circumstances it will resume. If the present measures are found to be inadequate in the next few days, we will do more, and if more money is needed, we will find it.”
• “In the face of so many insecurities and uncertainties, tonight I can only offer you the certainty of my commitment to Andorra. And with my commitment, that of the whole Government.
• The government spokesman, Eric Jove, emphasized that self-employed people who have stopped work in accordance with the measures decreed by the Government, can request a temporary suspension of their levies.
• Eric Jover explained that the Cabinet had now approved the qualified laws of States of Alert and States of Emergency. The text develops article 42 of the Constitution, which makes it possible to temporarily limit or suspend the exercise of certain fundamental human rights.
• The Minister explained that the Government is developing these laws, not to apply them now, but to have the tools ready if they are ever needed. Eric Jover then thanked all political parties for their “constructive spirit” in the development of these two laws.
• The Minister emphasized that the State of Alert can only last a maximum of 15 days, during which time it can restrict the mobility of people, vehicles and goods; seize some assets or occupy certain spaces for public purposes. Jover reiterated, however, that there is no intention to apply the law now.
• Further more, if workers cannot work during this quarantine, 50% of their time will be counted as holidays and the rest as work.
• He has emphasized the co-responsibility between companies and workers and the importance of protecting employees in a crisis “with a significant impact”.
• According to the State of Alert and Emergency laws to be approved by parliament today, Jover clarified that, in the case of limiting traffic circulation, drivers in breach of these rules can be penalized on the spot.
• Using a video conference, Jover met this week with a senior executive of the European Central Bank. The Government has also made other international contacts in case more funding is needed.
• Though some countries allow outdoor sports, Andorra, in its wish to stop the virus spreading, has banned all fixtures.
• A Decree has been approved to regulate shops that sell basic goods. Only one person per family can enter the shop. And establishments are also encouraged to promote home delivery. (For the elderly, don’t forget that you can ring 188 and ask for help with shopping and home delivery. C.A.)

OTHER

• Small and medium firms fear they will have to close for good after the crisis.

GOOD NEWS!

• Internet Consumption in Andorra has soared. Between Friday – the day before confinement – and the middle of this week, it was up 700%. At the same time, direct connections from mobile phones to internet fell 32% (people use this connection when away from home and the phone accesses via wifi at home). Maybe this means lots of people are watching films and certainly fewer people are out and about with their mobiles.
• More and more people are respecting the “quedatacasa” (stayathome) measures and, during the weekend, ATV filmed the most popular spots in the country with hardly a soul in sight.
• Families at home are planning their days and creating routines. Parents are becoming co-teachers. The children are receiving eight hours of online home schooling a day.
• The decrease in traffic has reduced pollution by 70%.
• Formula 1 racing teams have agreed to become actively involved in the fight against C19. Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams have responded to calls from governments to lend their technological and engineering expertise to the global pandemic. “Among the technologies the teams could help develop are lung ventilators, needed for the most seriously ill,” the sports newspaper, SportsMole said.

AROUND THE COMUNS

SANT JULIÀ
The Comú is joining in the initiative to make face masks from home. Start the sewing machine and get out your needle and thread! If interested ring 744 044 and they will bring you a sewing pack so you can make them at home.

ESCALDES-ENGORDANY
• “We care and take care of our elderly and vulnerable people. We keep track of and telephone support to make sure they are OK.” (In my opinion, Escaldes-Engordany takes first prize for the way they reach out to the seniors in their parish. I have two friends whom they have rung and then gone to visit, to assess how they can help them with shopping and daily living. C.A.)

UNOFFICIAL FEEDBACK

• SOCIAL DISTANCE – keeping at least two metres away from others. Are you one of the people having a problem understanding the importance of Social Distancing? I’ve spoken to several. Look at the chart. The first line shows what happens if a person with C19 does NOT practice Social Distancing. Within 30 days they could have infected 406 people – and probably killed a number of them. One of the problems with C19 is that it has an incubation period of 1–14 days. So, the unaware but infected person, who’s not keeping their distance, could have spent 14 days infecting others. (For seasonal flu the average incubation time is 2 days – and during that time it infects around half the number infected by Covid19.)

STAY AT HOME. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.

Culturally yours,

Clare.

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Look for about the author of the blog Clare Allcard

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