Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez held a press conference on Tuesday evening to explain his government’s plans for the deescalation of coronavirus confinement measures in Spain. These include ongoing mobility limits until the deescalation is over, potentially at the end of June, meaning people will, for now, still not be able to visit family members or their second residences if they are in another province.
Sánchez began by expressing his sorrow for the loss to Spanish society of the victims of the coronavirus, before explaining how Spain had managed to “flatten the curve of the spread of the epidemic.”
“The ‘Plan for the Transition Toward a New Normality,’ on which we have been working for nearly a month, was today approved by the Cabinet,” he continued. “We have taken into account the lessons from other places, but adapting them to the diversity and the reality of our country.”
The prime minister stated that the “only objective of this deescalation plan is to activate Spain protecting the health and lives of Spaniards.”
The deescalation would be, he continued, “gradual, asymmetrical – according to regions – and coordinated.” He committed to paying proper tribute to the victims of the coronavirus – officially 23,822, according to the latest figures – when the pandemic is defeated.
“There will be no mobility between provinces or islands until normality returns,” he explained, adding that there would be four phases, but with no set dates so as to be flexible according to the situation.
Each phase of the deescalation plan will last at least two weeks, and in the best-case scenario, the process will last eight weeks in all of Spain
Phase 0, he said, will begin on May 4, and will involve the reopening of small businesses such as restaurants that can offer food to take away, and places that can take bookings. This will include establishments such as hardware stores, government sources cited as an example. Customers would have to call and make an appointment to be able to buy a particular product. Only one customer would be permitted in the premises at a time and would be served by a sales clerk behind a screen or a counter.
This phase will also include the reopening of hairdressers, albeit with employees using the “maximum level of individual protection,” the same sources said, such as masks and gloves.
Individual classes will also be allowed in gyms, as well as individual training for federated sports players and professional leagues.
Phase 1, the prime minister continued, would “allow in each defined territory the partial reopening of small businesses under strict safety measures, but not large shopping malls, where big crowds could form.”
He added that this also included the opening of hotels and tourist apartments, not including common areas. Cafés and restaurants will also be able to open their outdoor sidewalk sections under this phase, at 30% of capacity, but entry inside will not be permitted.
Mobility within a province will also be permitted under Phase 1. This means that if the first phase lasts the time expected, people could begin to visit friends and family within the same province from May 11 at the earliest.
There will be a “timetable for the over-65s” to shop in retail establishments, he added, given that they are an at-risk group from the Covid-19 disease, while the use of masks on public transport “will be highly recommended.”
Religious sites such as churches will be able to open in phase 1, with a limit of 30% of their capacity, the prime minister said.
“By the end of June, as a country we will be in the new normality if the evolution of the epidemic is under control in all territories
Phase 2, meanwhile, will see hostelry establishments able to open their dining areas, at a third of their capacity. As for schools, they will not fully reopen until September, but Sánchez explained that they would offer a guarantee that children aged under six can attend classes if their parents have to go to work, and so that students can complete their university application processes and exams.
Sports players will also have fewer restrictions under Phase 2.
“Cultural events will be possible with fewer than 50 people in interior spaces, and for open-air events, there will have to be 400 people or fewer, and they will have to be seated,” Sánchez explained.
Cinemas and theaters will also reopen under Phase 2, with a third of their capacity allowed to enter and assigned seating.
Phase 3 will be “the advanced phase,” he continued, “once the required markers have been met,” with cinemas and theaters allowing 50% of their capacity to enter, for example. “General mobility will be relaxed,” he added, and it will still be recommendable to wear masks on public transport.
Under Phase 3, the capacity of stores and other public-facing businesses will be limited to 50%, with an inter-personal distance of two meters. Restrictions will be further relaxed for bars and restaurants.
Each phase will last at least two weeks, he said, which is the incubation period of the coronavirus, and in the best-case scenario, the process will last eight weeks in all of Spain.
“By the end of June, as a country we will be in the new normality if the evolution of the epidemic is under control in all territories,” he said. “This weekend individual physical activity [for adults] will be allowed, as will walks. On May 4, all territories will enter Phase 0, and given the low number of infections and if the progress allows for it, Formentera, the Balearics, Gomera, El Hierro and Graciosa in the Canary Islands will enter Phase 1 shortly after
Mobility within a province will be permitted under Phase 1, which will begin May 11 at the earliest
“On May 11, all of the provinces that meet the requisites will enter Phase 1, and the Health Ministry will evaluate the markers on a two-weekly basis.
“There is no closed and uniform calendar, and we will advance in each place as quickly as the epidemic permits,” he said. “When we conclude the deescalation we can say that each province has reached a situation of new normality until a vaccine arrives.”
Home-working will be preferable until at least reaching Phase 3, he added.
The markers the prime minister referred to will be “the capacity of the country’s health systems, the epidemiological situation in each area, protection measures in the workplace, business and public transport, and mobility and socioeconomic data.” These markers would be public, he added, “and transparent.”
The prime minister made clear that it would be the central Health Ministry, and not Spain’s regional governments, who would be deciding on the speed of deescalation in each province, despite the latter calling for such powers. “If we have to choose between prudence and risk, we opt for prudence,” he stated.
The virus, the prime minister said, “has not gone anywhere. It is still there lurking. With our behavior, we can save lives. We can protect our lives and help to rebuild our country. That is, right now, the best kind of patriotism.”
The four rules of the deescalation, Sánchez explained, were “a gradual, asymmetrical, coordinated and adaptable approach.” “The adaptability is because we don’t know what we are facing. Science still doesn’t know a lot of things about this virus. As such, we are facing something that we don’t know, and that is why we have to be cautious.”
Movement between provinces had to be restricted, Sánchez explained, to avoid the spread of the virus from area to area. “Imagine that one province is in Phase 1 and another in Phase 3,” he said. “Mobility cannot be permitted to go and meet with a relative or friend.” Mobility between provinces would return “when we reach the phase of the new normality,” he added – i.e. when the deescalation is over.
Sánchez also explained that another two-week extension to the state of alarm that was implemented on March 14 would be requested in Congress. The current period is due to expire on May 9.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated last year, has raised its official Covid-19 death toll by 50%, adding 1,290 fatalities.
Wuhan officials attributed the new figure to updated reporting and deaths outside hospitals. China has insisted there was no cover-up.
It has been accused of downplaying the severity of its virus outbreak.
Wuhan’s 11 million residents spent months in strict lockdown conditions, which have only recently been eased.
The latest official figures bring the death toll in the city in China’s central Hubei province to 3,869, increasing the national total to more than 4,600.
China has confirmed nearly 84,000 coronavirus infections, the seventh-highest globally, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The virus has had a huge impact on the Chinese economy, which shrank for the first time in decades in the first quarter of the year.
Follow our live reporting from around the world
Why China’s claims of success raise eyebrows
What’s China’s explanation for the rise in deaths?
In a statement released on Friday, officials in Wuhan said the revised figures were the result of new data received from multiple sources, including records kept by funeral homes and prisons.
Deaths linked to the virus outside hospitals, such as people who died at home, had not previously been recorded.
The “statistical verification” followed efforts by authorities to “ensure that information on the city’s Covid-19 epidemic is open, transparent and the data [is] accurate”, the statement said.
It added that health systems were initially overwhelmed and cases were “mistakenly reported” – in some instances counted more than once and in others missed entirely.
A shortage of testing capacity in the early stages meant that many infected patients were not accounted for, it said.
A spokesman for China’s National Health Commission, Mi Feng, said the new death count came from a “comprehensive review” of epidemic data.
In its daily news conference, the foreign ministry said accusations of a cover-up, which have been made most stridently on the world stage by US President Donald Trump, were unsubstantiated. “We’ll never allow any concealment,” a spokesman said.
Why are there concerns over China’s figures?
Friday’s revised figures come amid growing international concern that deaths in China have been under-reported. Questions have also been raised about Beijing’s handling of the epidemic, particularly in its early stages.
In December 2019, Chinese authorities launched an investigation into a mysterious viral pneumonia after cases began circulating in Wuhan.
China reported the cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s global health agency, on 31 December.
But WHO experts were only allowed to visit China and investigate the outbreak on 10 February, by which time the country had more than 40,000 cases.
The mayor of Wuhan has previously admitted there was a lack of action between the start of January – when about 100 cases had been confirmed – and 23 January, when city-wide restrictions were enacted.
Around that time, a doctor who tried to warn his colleagues about an outbreak of a Sars-like virus was silenced by the authorities. Dr Li Wenliang later died from Covid-19.
Wuhan’s death toll increase of almost exactly 50% has left some analysts wondering if this is all a bit too neat.
For months questions have been asked about the veracity of China’s official coronavirus statistics.
The inference has been that some Chinese officials may have deliberately under-reported deaths and infections to give the impression that cities and towns were successfully managing the emergency.
If that was the case, Chinese officials were not to know just how bad this crisis would get in other countries, making its own figures now seem implausibly small.
The authorities in Wuhan, where the first cluster of this disease was reported, said there had been no deliberate misrepresentation of data, rather that a stabilisation in the emergency had allowed them time to revisit the reported cases and to add any previously missed.
That the new death toll was released at the same time as a press conference announcing a total collapse in China’s economic growth figures has led some to wonder whether this was a deliberate attempt to bury one or other of these stories.
Then again, it could also be a complete coincidence.
But China has also been praised for its handling of the crisis and the unprecedented restrictions that it instituted to slow the spread of the virus. WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hashailed China for the “speed with which [it] detected the outbreak” and its “commitment to transparency”.
US President Donald Trump this week halted funding for the WHO, accusing it of making deadly mistakes and overly trusting China.
The WHO row, explained
“Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China, and that they have a certain number of cases and a certain number of deaths; does anybody really believe that?” Mr Trump said at the White House on Wednesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron has also questioned China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, saying it was “naive” to suggest the country had dealt better with the crisis, adding things “happened that we don’t know about”.
On Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We’ll have to ask the hard questions about how [coronavirus] came about and how it couldn’t have been stopped earlier.”
The Canary Islands reached the highest number of active cases registered by Covid-19 on Monday April 6th, since the epidemic began, but in the nine days that have passed since then they have decreased by 232 (16%) thanks above all, to an acceleration in the number of cases closed due to medical discharge and a decrease in the progression of infections. In fact recoveries have risen 256% in those nine days.
According to data provided by the Ministry of Health on its website at 8pm today, in accumulated figures, cases of coronavirus is 1,988, while discharges totalled 673, and deaths 107, three more than last night.
Two of these deaths correspond to residents of old people’s homes in Tenerife, in which there are now ten deaths in total.
There have also been 781 hospitalizations and 152 ICU admissions, although this data corresponds to 8pm on Tuesday.
Currently active cases, which are the total cases detected minus deaths and minus discharges, stood at 1,206 this Wednesday at 8pm, the lowest figure in April, which started with 1,282 active cases.
The number of active cases continued to rise in the first week of April, reaching 1,450 on Monday April 6th, the highest number of active cases recorded in the Canary Islands since the pandemic began.
The next day, saw was the first decrease in active cases when there were 28 fewer active cases in one day, a trend that has, with some daily ups and downs, continued its downward trend.
In the nine days since that peak of 1,450 active cases, 261 new cases of coronavirus have been detected in the islands, but in the same period there have been 476 new discharges and 17 deaths, leaving the number of active cases at 1,218 which is, 232 less than the maximum recorded, a decrease of 16%.
At the peak of active cases, there had been 186 accumulated medical discharges, but eight days later they have increased to 662, that is, recoveries have risen 256% in nine days, while deaths have grown 19% and new infections just over 15%.
Of the 1,986 cases accumulated until Tuesday at 2pm 1,249 correspond to Tenerife, depending on the place of residence, 456 to Gran Canaria, 83 to La Palma, 77 to Lanzarote, 42 to Fuerteventura, 10 to La Gomera and 4 to El Hierro.
The number of health professionals infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus is 447 until 8pm last night, 22% of the total accumulated cases.
NB: The Canarian Government has asked anyone looking for information to find it online in official sites or social media. If you are asking about specific symptoms, or think you might have covid19, first use the online test HERE, and then call the free multi-lingual helpline 900 112 061 if it is recommended by the test results. Use 112 only for emergencies, also multi-lingual.
Updated 11pm, 31/3: We must bear in mind that President Torres thinks we’re not quite at the peak yet, and that it could be within a week or so. And indeed the downward trend hasn’t continued over the last 24 hours, with 118 more cases in the last 24 hours bringing the total of cases registered in the Canaries to 1,380. Sadly, there have been another seven deaths in the last 24 hours too, bringing the total to 62. As usual, the detail on these figures will follow tomorrow.
Updated 4pm, 31/3: Sanidad confirms last night’s figures of 58 new cases in the Canaries over the previous 24 hours, bringing the number of cases in this outbreak to 1,262. Of that number, 483 have been admitted to hospital, 94 to ICUs. Those recovered number 57 and those who’ve perished 55, leaving 1,150 active cases throughout the islands. Tenerife remains the most affected island with 741 cases in total, followed by Gran Canaria with 365, La Palma with 62, Lanzarote 51, Fuerteventura 32, La Gomera 8, and El Hierro 3. It seems of interest to many so I can confirm that deaths per island are as follows: Tenerife 37, Gran Canaria 13, Lanzarote 3, and La Palma 2.
Updated 3pm, 31/3: From today, all essential workers out and about must carry a certificate to justify their journey. The certificate is in the annex to THIS piece of legislation.
Updated 2.30pm, 31/3: Sadly, a second resident from the Tegueste old people’s home has died, Sanidad has confirmed. Today’s figures for the Canaries later.
Updated 2pm, 31/3: Another horse’s mouth … it’ll involve google translate if you don’t have Spanish but seriously you will not do better than this. FAQs from the Spanish Government itself on what you can and can’t do under the State of Emergency HERE.
Updated 31 March: There has been enormous concern by those in private rental accommodation who have been affected by covid19. Some have lost their income entirely after being laid off, others have seen their income reduced, all are concerned about how to carry on paying their rent while trying to work – if even allowed to work – during the State of Emergency.
Now the Government has announced the help it has spent the last couple of weeks developing into a workable plan. Interest- and commission-free microloans, repayable over up to six years, will be available to anyone who needs them to pay their rent. The plan includes direct aid, and a formalization of the already announced suspension of evictions which will be in place for up to six months following the end of the State of Emergency, whenever that might be.
The microloans will be guaranteed by the State, a measure that is estimated to cost the country around €100m, as part of a package of measures amounting in total to around €700m. The loans will be available to anyone who has been laid off under an ERTE, those with reduced working hours, and the self-employed whose income is under three times the national minimum wage.
As further reassurance to tenants, those who can show that they are unable to repay the microloans will be entitled to direct state aid to pay them off up to a maximum of €900 per month to cover the entirety of the loan. Further information will be available when the measures are published later today.
Updated 11pm, 30/3: And again the increase is down. Sanidad has said tonight that we have had 58 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of cases in this outbreak to 1,262 in the Canaries. Sadly the death rate has jumped a bit. It’s up 15 to 55, but Sanidad says it doesn’t represent a leap as such but includes fatalities previously uncertified.
Updated 5.30pm, 30/3: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, standing in at the covid press conference this afternoon, has announced that many thousands of British nationals currently stuck abroad will be flown home under a new arrangement between the British government and a range of airlines including BA, Virgin, EasyJet, Jet2, and Titan. More detail in due course.
Updated 5pm, 30/3: Apparently it is still causing “confusion” even though it is straightforward and has been repeated any number of times. So, here again are the things we are allowed out for under the State of Emergency which has been imposed because there is an invisible enemy potentially everywhere that goes for our lungs.
Article 7 of the State of Emergency legislation says that we must stay at home except for these reasons:
to buy food, medicines or other basic necessities (like loo rolls, not like nail varnish)
to go to the doctor or medical establishments
to go to work (assuming the job comes under the list of essential services)
to go home after being out for a permitted reason
to provide assistance and care to the elderly, children, dependents, or people who are disabled or vulnerable
to go to banks and insurance offices
where there is compelling reason or need (this is on the level of the house being on fire not that of feeling a need to stretch the legs)
for any other similar activity – and this must be done individually unless helping someone disabled or similar
to take out a dog for a wee or to do its business but no more
to feed colonies of stray animals
We can go on foot or by car but we must be alone, unless helping someone disabled, elderly, or with a young child … and if that is by car, the second person must sit in the rear behind the passenger seat to maximise distance (because this rule applies across the board and so covers lifts from strangers and taxi drivers too).
Updated 4pm, 30/3: As we were told last night, the Canaries have recorded 1,204 cases with 40 fatalities. Today, Sanidad has confirmed that 444 of that number have needed to be admitted to hospital, 84 of them requiring Intensive Care Unit treatment. Numbers recovered have risen from 25 to 32, and so the active current cases in the Canaries number 1,132. By island, Tenerife remains the most affected by far, with 721 cases in total; Gran Canaria has had 341,La Palma 52, Lanzarote 48, Fuerteventura 31, La Gomera 8, and El Hierro 3.
Updated 2pm, 30/3: We’ve seen the face of Dr Fernando Simón many times. The director of the Centro de Coordinación de Alertas y Emergencias Sanitarias has given many press conferences during this outbreak, confirming figures, explaining the need to flatten the curve of infection. His has been a calm, measured, friendly, and expert voice in the midst of the confused clamour of fear. Now, Dr Simón himself has tested positive for covid19. I am certain that everyone will wish him well, and hope for him to recover fully.
Updated 1pm, 30/3: Sanidad has placed a third Tenerife old people’s home under emergency protocol after a case was confirmed yesterday in the Santa Rita residence in Puerto de la Cruz. Sanidad had already evaluated the home since it is a large one with over 650 residents and nearly 400 staff. The resident sharing the room with the positive case has been placed in isolation and the rest of the centre is being monitored, including identifying contacts of the patient and isolating those considered at respiratory risk.
Updated 10am, 30/3: The single fatality yesterday has now been confirmed to have occurred in another home for the elderly, this time in Tegueste, near Tejina in La Laguna municipio. Several other residents have now also tested positive. The residence has been cordoned off and full protocols activated.
Updated 30 March: The Spanish Government has tightened its lockdown by means of a law regulating recoverable paid leave for employees whose services are not deemed essential provision and who are therefore required to remain at home to reduce public movement during the covid19 outbreak. The measures are based on the recommendations of scientific advisers to the Government for ways to flatten as far as possible the curve of infections and avoid saturating the health system.
The restrictions on non-essential workers will be in place from Monday 30 March up to and including 9 April even though the State of Emergency itself is currently in place until the end of the 11th. These workers will receive their pay (basic plus supplements) while off work but will have to repay the time unworked: this will be repayable over a period that does not impinge on legal rights to time off – in other words they won’t be required to work round the clock and will still be entitled to their normal rest hours and days while working the time off.
There are a few exceptions to the general rule that only essential services personnel can work, such as those people in non-essential services who can work from home. These, however, are those essential services the Government has listed :
food supplies and production, including essential goods and services, animal feed, hygiene products, production or distribution of sanitary products
catering and restaurant home delivery services
production and distribution of medical and sanitary services, technology, material of any sort
production of anything needed for these essential services
Transport services for people and goods, and those who provide maintainance for the services
prison and civil protection workers, lifeboats, bomberos, fire prevention, mine safety, traffic and road safety, Securicor-type security transport, alarm responders, security patrols and guards, as well as those who provide the services to facilitate the security provision.
Military material and equipment, and maintenance thereof.
Health centres, services and establishments, as well as personnel caring for the elderly, minors, dependents or the disabled. Also Research & Development researchers and staff and those who supply and service their research, and funeral and related services.
Veterinary centres and services
Press and media commnications, news agencies, and printers and distributors
Financial services that are unavoidable, including banking, insurance and investment, stocks, etc.
Telecommunications and audiovisual companies and services along with supporting networks and facilities
Services for protection and care of domestic violence victims
Lawyers and legal professionals, translators, interpreters and psychologists
Gestors, asesors, and related services, management agencies, Health & Safety services
Notaries and registries
Cleaners, maintenance, repair and surveillance services, rubbish collection, sewage transport and disposal
Refugee centres and provision of humanitarian care
Water services including storage, treatment, supply, purification and drainage
Meteorologists and related processes
Distribution and delivery of products bought online or ordered otherwise
Any other workers who might be considered essential
Updated 11pm, 29/3: Such is the interest in this that HERE is the decree published tonight concerning essential works. I haven’t had a chance yet to look at it but thought it would be welcomed even without comment. I’ll come back to it later.
Updated 9pm, 29/3: Last night, we saw a glimmer of hope with Sanidad announcing the previous 24 hours’ figures growing by under 10% compared with an average of 20% in the previous fortnight. Tonight we have one new fatality and 79 new cases in the past 24 hours. This is still tragic, and President Torres has said only this afternoon that we are still at least a week away from the peak, but this feels hopeful that the measures in the Canaries at least are indeed slowing down the exponential growth of covid19, and helping to flatten the curve.
This might mean, overall, that the social distancing and lockdown measures might need to remain in place for a while longer because flattening the curve of infections to stop a peak overwhelming the health system means the outbreak will be drawn out over a longer period at a lower level, but this is the first night I feel anything remotely resembling hope. The Canaries tonight have recorded 1,204 cases with 40 fatalities. As usual, detail on the figures will follow tomorrow.
Updated 3pm, 29/3: I received the following email this morning from a reader, and I’m so glad they wrote because it shows the system is working. I reproduce it with their permission and hope it reassures where reassurance might be feeling needful.
Just to let you know… we had cause to contact the national helpline last night because my husband was bitten by his cat and after two days of home treatment it was obvious that he needed support for infection. This needed treatment.
Following the advice on your website,
I called the multilingual helpline* who connected me directly with the duty A&E doctor in Adeje who advised that we should come to the emergency facility, where our arrival was expected.
We arrived, wearing gloves and face masks as advised and my husband was admitted to the building, diagnosed and treated within 5 minutes. Then on to the 24 hour pharmacy in The Del Duque shopping center for the antibiotics and antiinflamatorios prescribed and then home.
What fantastic service! Thank you to the excellent Spanish medical service.
The oddest thing was driving at night. The lockdown is astonishing. In the whole trip I saw four vehicles and only one pedestrian. The lights blaze on, but there is no one in the hotels or on the streets. Stay home and stay safe.
Thank you, Janet, for your website, the information you give and helping us all in this time of crisis. And bless the medical staff.
*That multi-lingual helpline number is 900 112 061, as in the piece in bold at the top of the page.
Updated 29 March: Tenerife President Pedro Martin has said that the field hospital in the Recinto Ferial has been completed in little more than two days and will contain 180 beds that will fill the completed space over today and tomorrow. The works have been carried out under the auspices of the Cruz Roja in coordination with the Tenerife Cabildo and the Canarian Health Service.
Councillor for Sustainable Development and Climate action, Javier Rodríguez Medida, who is coordinating the different departments’ liaison, says that presently “several tents have already been set up, some for patients, others for resuscitation, as well as storage, waste for removal and so on”. There are also ingress and egress tents for medical personnel to get kitted up before entering an area which will be hazardous when in use, and to disinfect themselves before leaving. Inside, beds will be arranged in “wards” each of which will comprise groups of smaller numbers of beds, like “cubicles”.
President Martín thanked “the dedication and professionalism of everyone involved in making the hospital. They have done an excellent job and the Cabildo is very grateful for their efforts which have created preventative measures against any urgent health situations that might arise in this crisis.”
Updated 11pm, 28/3: Another day and another hundred cases. The Canaries now has 1,125 recorded cases of covid19, and sadly, three more have succumbed to the virus meaning that 39 people have now died in the islands. In one glimmer of hope, that might be all too short lived but we have to take it where we can find it, Sanidad says that today’s figures reflect a 9.76% growth of cases on yesterday, and that growth is the lowest in the last thirteen days where the average has been around 20%. As usual, there will be more detail on the night’s figures tomorrow.
Updated 9pm, 28/3: Pedro Sánchez will ask the Government tomorrow to approve new restrictions on all non-essential workers who will have to join those who are required to remain at home during the State of Emergency. That currently lasts until the end of 11 April but the restrictive measures on workers are presently expected to remain in place up to and including 9 April, at least in the first instance. There will be more detail tomorrow about which workers are affected, assuming the measures are approved by the Government, as is expected.
Updated 5pm, 28/3: The Government response is evolving as cases increase, and as enquiries overloading the information systems also increase. And so there is now a new page HERE from the Public Health department of the Canarian Health Service. It is designed for initial testing to save people ringing the helpline. The public is asked to use the online test as a first resort if they think they might have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who might be infected. This will free up the helpline for those who are advised to call it – one of the possible responses of the online test. As ever, 112 is for emergencies only.
Updated 28 March: As we learned last evening, there are now 1,025 cases recorded in the Canaries, 210 of them confirmed to be medical personnel. Sadly, 36 have died and 25 recovered, leaving 964 active cases in the islands. Numbers requiring hospital treatment have now reached 377, 68 needing ICU beds. Tenerife remains the worst affected island, with 671 cases recorded in total: Gran Canaria has 253; La Palma, 43; Fuerteventura, 25; Lanzarote, 24; La Gomera, 6; and El Hierro, 3. Of the 36 who have died, 23 have been in Tenerife, 9 in Gran Canaria, 3 in Lanzarote, and 1 in La Palma.
Updated 11pm, 27/3: We have known it was to get worse, and tonight it has got quite a bit worse. There have been nine more deaths in the last 24 hours, taking our grim total so far to 36. The latest figures show 147 more cases, roughly double the worst increases to date. We now have 1,025 cases recorded in the Canaries.
Updated 10pm, 27/3: Sanidad has put the Fasnia Centro Sociosanitario under an isolation protocol after 26 users of the centre plus ten workers there have tested positive. Sanidad said that the centre will now be isolated, cleaned and disinfected. All 55 users of the centre and its 48 staff were tested after one resident tested positive, the man whose death was announced last night.
The centre comes under the jurisdiction of the Cabildo, and it is coordinating with Sanidad a health support plan for those affected by the isolation order because they are highly vulnerable to the effects of this virus. The patients are being transferred to the San Juan De Dios Hospital where measures are already in place for their clinical monitoring.
The protocol will now be applied to the other users and workers. Workers who have tested positive will go into isolation with active surveillance by health personnel. The rest of the users and workers at the centre who have tested negative will be subjected to preventive isolation and active surveillance. In addition, the contagious zone has been cordoned off and is being intensely disinfected, as established in the protocol.
The SCS has been evaluating alternatives with the Cabildo of Tenerife in order to have facilities where users can be transferred should this type of situation recur.
Updated 2.30pm, 27/3: The death toll has increased by one today, an elderly man in the Fasnia Old People’s Home. So this afternoon we have 878 recorded cases in the Canaries, 609 of them in Tenerife. In all there have been 20 recoveries and, now, sadly 28 fatalities.
Updated 2pm, 27/3: Following the confirmation earlier of 878 recorded cases in the Canaries with 94 new cases in the last 24 hours, Sanidad has confirmed that 609 of those 878 are in Tenerife, 69% of the total. In Tenerife, 133 of those 609 are in hospital, 37 in ICU. These are distributed between Candelaria Hospital with 70 (24 in ICU), and HUC with 63 (13 in ICU).
Updated 27 March: There have been 94 new cases in the last 24 hours bringing the total in the Canaries to 878. Sadly, three more have become victims of the virus bringing the number of deaths up to 27, one of whom is a British man in Lanzarote. He was in his 80s and had underlying health conditions.
There has been great interest in the condition of the baby born by Caesarian in Gran Canaria recently whose mother was infected. She remains in serious condition but the baby is said to be doing well. He is receiving intensive care because of his weight but is in good health and not carrying the virus.
Meanwhile, Sanidad is settling into a new routine with the replacement of Canarian Health Secretary Teresa Cruz by Julio Pérez who had been Minister of Public Administration, Justice and Security. Cruz had been criticized in several quarters for her handling of the crisis in the Canaries, and Pérez’ appointment has been met with wide approval.
Updated 4pm, 26/3: To give an idea of how a council is dealing with policing and managing the crisis in practical terms, we can look at Adeje again. The council has seen over 100 operations undertaken by the Policia Local working in conjunction with the UME (Emergency Militia) and other national security forces in duties involving identification, vigilance and protection of the public.
Security councillor Mercedes Vargas Delgado said that the council is in “continuous communication with all of the relevant bodies and national security forces and are doing all we can within our remit and competency, all we can to guarantee the protection and security of our citizens. At times like this it is vital that we follow the rules that have been put in place and that we stay at home”.
Police have registered 76 incidents where individuals have acted in contravention of the State of Emergency by gathering together, meeting in groups or holding events that are not permitted, or which have caused obstruction on public roads or impeded the actions and work of the security forces or emergency services.
Ten vehicles have been stopped and found to be travelling without the proper authorisation and up to 90 individuals have been found to disobey the rules laid down during the national state of emergency. In this regard the councillor noted that “the Policia Local are placing and staffing controls in strategic points in the borough to ensure that those who are travelling in their vehicles are authorised to do so or have a proper reason for the trip they are taking”.
Meanwhile, in parallel with the work to prevent actions in contravention of the current measures in place, the forces are also part of the cleaning and disinfection campaign, with the UME disinfecting the Adeje Health Centre this morning. The Adeje volunteer fire-fighters have been cleaning and disinfecting the Senior Citizens residence while teams from the Ascan Torrabonaf company alongside members of EMSA, the municipal services company, have been cleaning those areas generally registering a high turnover of members of the public, streets outside supermarkets, chemists, health centres, banks, etc.
Updated 3pm, 26/3: Sanidad’s lunchtime roundup confirms last night’s figures of 784 cases recorded in the islands, with 279 having needed to go into hospital, 45 of whom have needed Intensive Care beds. There have been 18 recoveries and 24 fatalities: all the victims had previous conditions or were elderly. Specifically, of the victims, 12 have been in their 80s (five women, seven men), seven have been in their 70s (one woman and six men), two in their 60s (both women), one man in his 50s, and two in their 30s (both women).
Updated 26 March: Late last evening the Spanish Government approved Prime Minister Sánchez’ request to extend the State of Emergency. The measures remain the same and are now in place until the end of 11 April. The Government says it recognizes that this is a drastic measure which requires a great sacrifice by all of us, but which is necessary in the fight against covid19.
One measure that has caused great excitement and discussion on social media is the situation of giving lifts. The apparent “confusion” over straightforward rules was exacerbated yesterday when police attempted to clarify them. Their clarification was taken as “a change” when it was no such thing. The situation on lifts is that one person can give another person a lift in the car under the circumstances that were outlined a fortnight ago when the State of Emergency was imposed, and which have not changed since. These are that you can go to help someone, or give them a lift, if they are a child, elderly, infirm or unwell, or where circumstances are compelling and you have to take them.
Police themselves are explicit: the two in a car rule is only when it is imperative, and not just to go shopping. The second person, the passenger, must sit in the back of the car behind the passenger seat. That maximises the physical distance in case it’s not a couple, but an acquaintance giving a lift, or a taxi driver.
This is a direct quote from N332 – traffic police: “There MUST be a reasonable reason to take a second person in your vehicle, and this must be included in article 7. For example; Two family members have an appointment in the hospital, work in the same place or area, or they need to attend to any place both together, and the presence of both it is strictly necessary.
Explicitly they say it is not “to take our wife or husband to do the shopping and wait in the parking, please common sense. The Alarm State has been declared therefore we must remain at home and only get out when it is really necessary.”
Updated 9pm, 25/3: Three more people have died in the Canaries in the last 24 hours, Sanidad has confirmed. There are now 24 fatalities in the islands. The sad news will be included in the full statistics tomorrow. Although this represents a lower number of deaths than the past two days, each of which has recorded five victims, the number of cases has risen even more than yesterday. Where we had 100 new cases yesterday, today there have been 127 bringing our current total of recorded cases to 784.
Updated 2pm, 25/3: Cases in the canaries rose by exactly 100 yesterday, Sanidad has confirmed, with 657 cases here now having been registered. Of these, 235 have needed to be taken to hospital, 43 of them requiring Intensive Care beds. There are 15 now recovered, but as I posted last night, after our two worst days here, five more have died, bringing the sad total to 21. All the victims, 10 women and 11 men, have been elderly or with underlying conditions. By islands, Tenerife’s registered cases have risen 71 in the last 24 hours from 338 to 409. Gran Canaria has had 171, La Palma 33, Fuerteventura 20, Lanzarote 17, La Gomera 4, and El Hierro 3.
Meanwhile, Sanidad is now setting up a field hospital in the Recinto Ferial in Santa Cruz. The installation will be set up by Cruz Roja and will be made available to the regional administration by the Tenerife Cabildo. It will be able to accommodate up to 220 beds for those infected by covid19 and who need monitoring but who do not need significant nursing care. The medical facility wil be upstairs in the Recinto while the ground floor is being converted into a logistics centre from which resources will be distributed to the municipalities that request them.
Updated 12 noon, 25/3: I’ve had lots of queries about car inspections during the this period. ITVs have been suspended during the State of Emergency, as are any sanctions for driving a car without one … provided it expired during the State of Emergency or you had an ITV appointment during the State of Emergency. If your car’s ITV expired before the State of Emergency and you did not already have an ITV appointment, you can still be fined for driving an unfit vehicle.
Updated 25 March: These are the accommodation available in Tenerife for those unable to leave before hotels close tomorrow.
Arona. Aparthotel Marisol. Costa Adeje. Aparthotel Lagos de Fañabe. Costa Adeje. Aparthotel Los Olivos. Costa Adeje. Aparthotel Santa María. Santa Cruz. Apartamentos Brujas.
Updated 11pm, 24/3: Tonight’s toll is as sad as last night’s, with five more victims in the last 24 hours. These last two days are the worst so far since the outbreak began. Again, the sad statistics will be included in tomorrow’s figures.
Updated 6pm, 24/3: The first prison sentence in Spain for disobeying the State of Emergency has been imposed, the ministro del Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has confirmed. It is a four-month sentence for “desobediencia” and it was handed down by the Courts in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. When they say STAY HOME they mean it.
Updated 5pm, 24/3: Sometimes it’s hard to know if news is good or bad. I hope this will turn out to be good. There are two pregnant women in the Canaries with covid19, and one of them has just given birth in the Hospital Materno Infantil de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Sanidad says only that the delivery was carried out by Caesarean section.
Updated 3pm, 24/3: We saw yesterday how Adeje Ayuntamiento was helping the elderly, and as I said then, councils throughout Tenerife are the focal points for local assistance where people are struggling or affected by this outbreak. Today another example comes from Arona’s Social Services Dept which is helping the homeless.
The council says that an area of the pabellón Jesús Domínguez Grillo in Los Cristianos has been fitted out to accommodate some 20 homeless people as just one measure the council is taking to try to protect their health. The arrangements comply with the 2m distance we’re required to keep from each other, as well as ensuring the occupants get the necessary health and food supplies they need. The council has also increased its Mobile Social Emergency Unit food deliveries from once to twice daily throughout the municipality.
Please do contact your local Ayuntamiento for any assistance you might need as a resident of your borough, registered on the local padrón.
Updated 24/3: Sanidad has announced today’s figures which show a jump to 557 cases, up 76 from the previous day, which itself had a jump of 67. Of these, 207 have been hospitalized and 36 required ICU beds. Eight have recovered, but sadly 16 have now died – all of them have been elderly and/or with underlying health conditions. Tenerife remains the worst affected island by some distance, and its cases have now gone from 293 yesterday to 338. Other islands have been less affected, and today Gran Canaria has 158 cases; La Palma, 24; Fuerteventura, 18; Lanzarote, 13; La Gomera, 3; and El Hierro, 3.
Updated 11pm, 23/3: The nightly toll is a sad one today. Five have died in the last 24 hours in the worst day since the outbreak began. The sad statistic will be included tomorrow’s figures which appear to contain quite a jump in cases over today.
Updated 4pm, 23/3: Many councils are the focal points for local assistance where people are struggling or affected by this outbreak, and a look at what Adeje is doing for the elderly will be instructive because it will show the type of thing other councils are doing too, and not just for the elderly, in terms of adapting and reinforcing services at this time. Please do contact your local Ayuntamiento for any assistance you might need as a resident of your borough, registered on the local padrón.
The Councillor for community wellbeing and senior citizens, José Antonio López Delgado, says that the care service for the borough’s senior citizens has continued throughout the current situation and adapted to meet the new needs of the more vulnerable members of our society given the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are currently 77 people receiving home care attention, with a team of 10 professionals “offering individual assistance as well as a telephone service staffed by members of the social services team”, detailed the councillor. He added that the council are planning to add new members to the team if there is an increase in demand for their services.
López Delgado said the team who are attending to people in their homes has, of course, all the protection materials needed to carry out their work given that the amount of help being requested from elderly people at home had increased.
He said that the seniors’ Santa Ana Day Club was closed but they were staying in touch with the 443 people who used the centre on a regular basis. “We are phoning them, letting them know about activities they can do at home. We have social networks too that they are all able to use”. The service is also being offered to the 21 people who use the Senior Residence day centre
The Senior Residence centre currently has 18 people in residence, and they are, of course, being cared for by professionals and in regular contact with family members by phone or video calls, given that visits are currently not allowed.
To guarantee the proper care and attention of those in residence, the care workers are working a series of shifts, using all of the strictest sanitation protocols, and the centre has its own laundry, kitchen and the council have also increased the daily cleaning and disinfection service of the surrounds as well.
The 108 clients of the ‘Calidad de Vida’ (quality of life) programme are also receiving a service through videoconferences, social networks, telephone contact, etc. There is a shopping service on offer to them as well as assistance in cognitive strengthening lessons, etc, and advice for families to carry out activities together.
Updated 1pm, 23/3: Sanidad has confirmed today that the Canaries have recorded 481 cases of covid19, up 67 from yesterday. Of these 172 have been hospitalized and 32 required ICU beds. Seven have recovered and, sadly, now 11 have died, 10 of whom have been over the age of 60 and all 11 had underlying conditions.
Tenerife remains the worst affected island by some distance, with 293 cases in total compared to Gran Canaria, 135; La Palma, 21; Fuerteventura, 18; Lanzarote, 9; La Gomera, 3; and y El Hierro, 2.
Please ignore rumours doing the rounds that all tourists, and sometimes allegedly all non-residents, have to leave the island because tourism is shutting down on Thursday. This is completely false. The airport remains open because people can leave if they wish, and indeed Spanish nationals and legal residents and a limited list of others may fly into Spain, but no-one is required to leave.
Updated 23 March: The Canarian tourism authorities say that following the departures over this last weekend, they expect today to end with fewer than 10,000 holidaymakers left here, just over 12% of those who were here on Thursday when President Torres explained that figures showed between 80,000 and 90,000 in the islands. He expected 60,000 to depart between Friday and last night. It seems the islands are doing an even better job of helping them home.
Updated 9.15pm, 22/3: The Spanish Government has closed the airports as well as the country’s borders from midnight tonight to all but Spanish nationals and legal residents of Spain. Residents of other EU and Schengen countries will only be allowed into Spain to return to their places of residence.
There are a few other exceptions, such as long-stay visa holders (3rd country nationals), cross-border workers (Gibraltar); health professionals or care for the elderly; diplomatic and transport personnel; and anyone travelling for imperative family reasons or for duly justified reasons of force majeure.
Spain’s Interior Ministry says that the measure is to protect the health and safety of citizens and to contain the virus, and is in accordance with the decision adopted by the members of the European Council on 17 March, where a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and Schengen associated countries was agreed.
The order, signed by Spanish Home Secretary Fernando Grande-Marlaska will initially be valid for 30 days, but may be extended. The measure, to be explicit, affects those entering Spain. Anyone wishing to leave may do so.
Updated 9pm, 22/3: Sadly there are two more deaths tonight in the Canaries, both in Tenerife, and both elderly and with underlying conditions. More detail in tomorrow afternoon’s figures.
Updated 4pm, 22/3: There is confusion, seemingly, over absolutely clear rules as to what one is allowed to do, under the State of Emergency with animals. Here are the rules, the English thanks to Miranda Parsons of Tenerife South Translations.
Updated 3pm, 22/3: Today’s figures from Sanidad are 414 cases recorded in total, 150 of which have been hospitalized with 32 of them in Intensive Care Units. Seven have recovered and, sadly, nine have died. There are therefore 398 active cases in the Canaries, 50 more than yesterday.
Of those who have died, seven are women, two are men. Five were in their 80s – three women and two men. In addition one other woman was in her 70s, and two in their 60s. Only one was in their 30s. Every single one of them had underlying health issues.
In terms specifically of Tenerife, the island has registered 262 cases, more than all the other islands combined, and 62% of the total in the Canaries.
Updated 1.30pm, 22/3: El Hospital San Juan de Dios in the Metropolitan Area has asked for the loan of 3D printers from any businesses or individuals who can provide them. They will be used to make supports for protective visors to help health personnel. If you can help, please fill in THIS form.
Updated 22 March: It will surprise hardly anyone that Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez has told all the Presidents of Spain’s regions in a video conference this morning that he intends to ask Parliament to approve an extension to the State of Emergency, currently in place only for 15 days because that is the maximum that could be imposed summarily when it was introduced as, obviously, an emergency measure. It appears that the first extension will be for another 15 days, but it would be unwise in the extreme to think that this is the only extension that there is likely to be. We are likely to be informed early in the coming week that it has been approved by Parliament.
Updated 11.30pm, 21/3: Sadly, another two victims of covid19 have been announced tonight, one in Tenerife and another in Gran Canaria. Their deaths mean that nine people have now died in the Canaries.
The news comes as Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez, who talks to the people regularly through mini-broadcasts, says tonight that the worst is yet to come, that there are very hard days ahead that will push us to the limit. He calls on everyone to remain in their homes while the state protects them. And he says that we will get through this.
Just click on the image and it will open up to play the video.
Lo peor está por llegar. Recibiremos el impacto de la ola más dura, que nos pondrá al límite. Para vencerla, los españoles y españolas deben permanecer unidos, en sus casas, mientras su país les protege, les cuida y la combate con tesón. Lo lograremos, #EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos.
Updated 9pm, 21/3: The police in southern Spain have released THIS very helpful list of questions and answers about the State of Emergency. It is in English, and covers many of the things I’ve been asked so many times now I can’t keep count. I hope it helps … both readers and my own sanity! There’s a text file HERE for those who aren’t on Facebook: please understand that it was written for a specific area but applies nationally, including the Canaries, because the whole country is under the State of Emergency.
Updated 2pm, 21/3: Sanidad has confirmed that 348 cases have now been registered in the Canaries, seven have recovered. The death toll has sadly increased by three over the last 24 hours so now, sadly, seven have died, four in Tenerife and three in Gran Canaria: most have been elderly and all have had underlying health conditions. There are now 334 active cases in the islands, up 57 from yesterday. By islands the recorded cases are Tenerife 219, Gran Canaria 97, La Gomera 3, La Palma 11, Lanzarote 4, Fuerteventura 13, and El Hierro 1.
Updated 21 March: Two more deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours in the Canaries, sadly. Both victims, a man and a woman, were in Gran Canaria, and both were elderly with prior conditions, Sanidad confirms.
Updated 8pm, 20/3: Sad and worrying news tonight. It isn’t just the elderly or those with underlying conditions at risk, but our frontline services are too. Spain tonight is mourning the death today of Francisco Javier Collado, a 38-year-old Guardia Civil officer from La Mancha in Ciudad Real who was otherwise in good health.
Tragically, he is the second Guardia Civil victim. The first was Pedro Alamedo, a 37-year-old from Madrid who died on Wednesday, and who also had no underlying health conditions.
Our frontline services are taking the brunt of the risk for us. Let’s work with them, for their sake, and our own.
Rest in Peace … Descanse en paz.
Updated 6.30pm, 20/3: The Canarian Government has suspended all surgical operations in the hospitals in the archipelago apart from those of the utmost severity or urgency. In addition, the Government has announced that chronically ill patients will be relocated to free up beds. Private clinics have put their beds at the Government’s disposal, as previously reported.
Updated 6.15pm, 20/3: Sadly tonight El Hierro has its first case, Sanidad has confirmed. Timing means it will be included in tomorrow’s figures.
Updated 6pm, 20/3: I hope this will reassure. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González have spoken and confirmed their shared commitment to support British tourists as they return from Spain. Both the Foreign Office and Department of Transport are working with UK airlines to ensure sufficient flights continue back to UK for British holidaymakers in Spain.
Updated 20 March: Today’s figures from Sanidad are sobering. The Canaries has registered a total of 287 cases: of these, six have recovered and four have tragically died: yesterday it was announced yesterday that nine had recovered but Sanidad has now said the information had been clarified. That leaves a total for active cases of 277, up 69 in the last 24 hours. By islands, the accumulated cases are Tenerife 192; Gran Canaria 70; La Gomera 3; La Palma 7; Lanzarote 3, and Fuerteventura 12.
Updated 11.30pm, 19/3: This needs no words from me.
Critical care nurse Dawn has pleaded for the public to “stop it” after being faced with empty supermarket shelves following a 48-hour shift.
Updated 11pm, 19/3: And now that decree closing the hotels has been approved, and published in the BOE. The law is HERE, and you will see it is dated today, but stipulates that tourist accommodation establishments must close either when they have no guests left or a week tomorrow at the latest, whichever comes first. Tonight, many working in the hospitality sector are facing the prospect of at least a temporary lay off for an indefinite period.
Also concerned might be those who live permanently in tourist complexes or camp sites but the legislation allows for tourist establishments for long-term guests to remain open under some conditions. Obviously they will want to check urgently with the management of their accommodation as to whether or how they might be affected. At the very least, such establishments, even if allowed to remain open for long-term guests, may not take in any new ones.
Updated 9pm, 19/3: Sanidad has confirmed tonight that a fourth person has died from covid19 in the Canaries. The victim is an 80-year-old woman who was suffering from a serious underlying condition. She died in Tenerife, our third fatality in this island.
Updated 8pm, 19/3: The following video is made by Kurzgesagt, a German animation studio and YouTube channel that creates animated videos explaining complex space and science topics. It is reputable and scientifically rigorous, and the content of this video has been individually confirmed to me by two independent virological specialists. To me, it is the most straightforward and understandable explanation of what covid19 is, and what it can create, and how society can best deal with it. I hope it will help explain what we are facing but I would stress that although they focus on what can go wrong, it must be understood that the worst happens in the very small percentage of cases that become extremely serious.
This cannot be downplayed, and it is indeed far worse than “a flu”: it is a SARS virus, not a flu virus, but we are still talking, overall, of small figures in terms of fatalities or long-term incapacity in those who recover. No-one is prepared to put numbers on this as yet because it is a new virus, but indications are that compared with the roughly 0.5% mortality of the flu viruses, covid19 seems to be running under different public health approaches at between 1.5% and 7.5% at present.
Updated 5pm, 19/3: Police say that “los días de pedagogía han terminado”. They advise the public that they have gone easy over the last five days with officers under instructions to treat the first few days of the Estado de Alarma as a period for educating people over what a State of Emergency means. From now on, the public is considered to understand that the country is on a war footing against an invisible enemy, and that they must stay at home except for a restricted list of justifiable reasons for going out. Police say that it’s natural for everyone to miss their liberty, but that their liberty was no longer available to them, and would remain so while the State of Emergency was in place. They’ve been giving an easy ride … that’s over now.
Updated 19/3: Sanidad says that the active cases in the Canaries have gone up from yesterday’s 170 to 208. Of these, 82 are in hospital, 23 in Intensive Care Units. We are still mercifully on the three deaths already reported, and nine have recovered.
The Canarian Health Service has put out a call for qualified health personnel. They are asking for doctors and nurses to say if they can be available to help in the case of the health system being short staffed due to illness or generally overwhelmed. If you can help, and have qualifications in any of the health sciences, whether in an EU country or not, please send your details by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, using the form that can be downloaded from the link HERE.
In other matters, I repeat today that hotels are not under any national order to close. The decree that supposedly closed them remains only a proposal, and the draft which caused such news furore yesterday remains unpublished so far. Hotels are closing left right and centre, but this is because of cancellations, and because guests are leaving earlier than planned. The formal requirement to close may come, indeed is likely to come, but it has not been imposed yet.
The Canaries is now under a regime of 17 flight connections with the mainland daily thanks to restrictions requested by regional President Torres and agreed by Spanish PM Sánchez. Airports throughout Spain remain open, and today the Government has confirmed that it has no plans to close any airports at the moment. Those very words indicate that this is still a measure under consideration.
Finally let me repeat that anyone in an abusive relationship will struggle at present because they’re under lockdown with their abuser. They will not just face a mortal threat from a virus but one much closer to home. There is a brilliant scheme to try to help: get to a farmacia and ask for a Facemask 19 (for Covid19!) – in Spanish it’s a Mascarilla-19 – and the chemist staff will know to call 112 on your behalf.
Updated 11pm, 18/3: Some will find the days and weeks to come very difficult to handle. Some especially because their partners will find the days and weeks to come very difficult to handle. Such partners might be on a short fuse, some might anyway have a temper. If you are with someone like this, go to the farmacia. It won’t matter if your partner is with you. Tell the chemist you want a mascarilla, a facemask … but you must specify that you want a “Mascarilla-19” (for covid 19). By asking for a Mascarilla19, the chemist will know to call 112 on your behalf. This is an initiative from the Canarian Equalities Institute and supported at all levels of Canarian Government.
Updated 6pm, 18/3: Many people will be concerned about their employment situation and what to do if they’re laid off or lose their job entirely as a result of covid19. Thankfully, Diana McGowan has written THIS detailed advice to explain how workers might be affected and what they can and should do.
Updated 5pm. 18/3: The Guardia Civil have confirmed that the rule on getting or giving a lift in a car is that we are required by the State of Emergency to go out, whether on foot or in the car, on our own. There are two exceptions: helping someone elderly or infirm, or taking a child; and where there is “causa justificada” (justifiable reason).
The problem we’ll all have with this regulation is what is meant by “justifable reason”. That can mean a range of things from “good reason” to “compelling emergency” and it is individual police officers who’ll be interpreting it when they stop people. And if they decide the reason is acceptable, then it will be fine, but the penalties of breaking the State of Emergency are considerable if it is not. And so “good cause”, in my opinion, had better be way better than “didn’t want to take a taxi” …
Updated 1pm, 18/3: There has been a jump of 32 cases in the last 24 hours in the Canaries. From 138 yesterday we now have 170 active cases in the islands, 73 of whom are in hospital, and 17 of those are in ICU beds. We have eight cases in total recovered and discharged, and sadly now three deaths, all women who had significant underlying issues.
Updated 11am, 18/3: Sadly, a 36-year-old woman died today in Tenerife from covid19. She is said to have had a significant underlying condition. She is the second death in Tenerife, the third in the Canaries.
Updated 18 March: The FCO has advised British visitors to Spain who want to go home to make plans to do so as soon as they can. The FCO says:
In light of the measures being imposed across Spain, as well as increasing cancellation of flights and hotel closures, we advise British travellers who are currently there and wish to return to the UK to make travel plans as soon as possible.
Updated 11.30pm, 17/3: Sanidad has asked for help tonight from any businesses who can provide materials and professionals to deal with the covid19 outbreak which is expected to get worse here, as confirmed earlier today by Sanidad minister Teresa Cruz. The email address is email@example.com … and it’s formed by the message they are hoping will become part of our daily life for the time being – unidad crisis, united in crisis. If you can unite to help, Sanidad will be very pleased to hear from you.
Updated 10pm, 17/3: Spain’s national Government has approved the regional Canarian Government’s request to limit entry into the Canaries. The measures restrict fights fly from the Peninsula to the Canary Islands, and air traffic between the islands in the archipelago. The special measures have been published already in the BOE HERE, and apply to any commercial or private flight from 00:00 hours on 19 March from any airport within Spanish national territory and to any airport located in the territory of the Canary Islands. Furthermore, from 00:00 hours on 18 March, i.e. midnight tonight, no executive aviation flights, air taxis or similar operations, can land in the Canaries regardless of their origin.
Under the measures, there will be two flights a day between Madrid and Gran Canaria; two a day between Barcelona and Gran Canaria; one a day between Bilbao and Gran Canaria; one a day between Seville and Gran Canaria. For TFN there will be two daily between it and Madrid, two for Barcelona, one for Bilbao, and one for Seville. TFS wil have one between it and Madrid. There will also be one between Madrid and Fuerteventura, and also one between Madrid and La Palma, one between Madrid and Lanzarote and one between Barcelona and Lanzarote.
Only those passengers will be allowed who justify an immediate need to fly while restrictions last, and there will be controls in the airports of the islands to take temperatures of passengers arriving from the rest of Spain.
With regard to maritime traffic, from midnight tonight passengers embarking on roll on-roll off ferries from the mainland will be banned from disembarking in Canarian ports. From midnight tomorrow night, all vessels and pleasure boats used for recreational or sporting purposes or for charter, regardless of their origin, are prohibited from entering all ports in the Canary Islands.
I imagine people will wonder why this is all concerning the mainland, and that is because Spain is a country of autonomous regions, no one of which can seal the country’s entire boundary, only their own. Spain might yet entirely close air space, and indeed this was mentioned as a possibility earlier today, but such powers are not within the remit of the Canarian Government, which can only control its own borders within its context as a region of Spain.
Updated 5pm, 17/3: Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has announced a package of measures to help people affected economically by the State of Emergency. The measures comprise the largest financial aid package in the country’s history with up to €200 billion allocated, 20% of the country’s GDP.
The measures include a mortgage holiday for anyone who loses their job or has a pay cut, unemployment benefit now to include those who lose their jobs even when their contributions have not accumulated to a sufficient level, and guaranteed utilities services to the vulnerable and those affected financially by the measures.
No evictions will take place of tenants in financial difficulties while State of Emergency measures remain in place, and loans will be available for those in certain sectors like agriculture as well as for the investigation and development of a covid19 vaccine. Please note that I have no information on the situation of the self-employed: there is no point contacting me for it because if I haven’t posted it, I don’t have it. As soon as I have any information I will post it.
Sánchez said that fighting covid19 will require a common collaborative commitment. We are a first rate democracy with full separation of powers, and that means the state has a contract with the public where people’s safety is paramount. But the public therefore necessarily has a contract with the state, and it fulfills that by abiding by the law, respecting instructions issued by policing and medical authorities, and acting for the common good in a time of crisis.
Sánchez said he himself applauded the public who have been going out to their balconies every night to applaud security workers. He thanked shop and supermarket personnel, health professionals, teachers, and all communication channels for working to keep everyone informed. I have to say, to me, the praise Sánchez has got from WHO Director-General Dr Tedros is well deserved. Dr Tedros has said that Spain has its response right, and that Sánchez, whose own wife has tested positive for covid19, is showing clear leadership.
Updated 2pm, 17/3: The Canaries’ active cases have risen from 111 yesterday to 138 today; two people have died, and eight have recovered. In hospital are 50 patients, 13 of them in Intensive Care Units. We will now clearly be reporting on region-wide cases as numbers increase. Sanidad minister Teresa Cruz has confirmed the rate of infection in the Canaries at 6.6 cases per population of 100,000, with cases fully expected to continue to grow; the mininster said the Government was preparing to meet the growing demand for cases that are occurring, especially on the island of Tenerife.
Sanidad has reorganized some aspects of medical provisions in the Canaries. GPs services will be maintained but from tomorrow patients are urged to ring 012 or use the cita previa website for a telephone appointment and they will be able to go to a chemist with their medical card where any prescriptions will be fulfilled without a paper copy being presented. The helpline for covid19 information is 900 112 061, but anyone with symptoms or in an emergency should ring 112.
Scheduled and follow-up consultations for different health programmes will be replaced by telephone consultations wherever it is deemed possible, though priority will be given to children’s health programmes and especially those under 15 months of age and particularly in relation to vaccination programmes.
Many activities like training, or breastfeeding or stopping-smoking groups and the like are suspended, except for areas essentially related to the covid19 measures. Elsewhere, with blood samples and similar, priority will be given to urgent issues with others postponed. Out-patient consultations are maintained but some are postponed, again it’s a matter of prioritizing urgent cases. Operations, however, will be limited to urgent cases and those where delay could seriously affect the patient’s health.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Ministro del Interior (Home Secretary) Fernando Grande-Marlaska has said today that airports are already reduced to 50% traffic, and the Government has not ruled out closing Spanish airspace entirely. As I posted earlier, I’ll report whenever there is confirmation of the measures proposed yesterday by the Canarian President to limit flights to just 17 daily connections with the mainland.
Updated 17 March: As Tenerife comes to terms with the first death from covid19 in the island, the second in the Canaries, last evening, army units are now deployed in the capitals of Tenerife and Gran Canaria provinces, as there are throughout the whole of Spain. The army says they can be called on as necessary under the measures imposed by the State of Emergency, and their numbers could increase as things develop. The army has named the operation Operación Balmis, named in honour of the military doctor who pioneered the smallpox vaccine.
Further developments in the last several hours have seen air authorities announcing high levels of flight delay at TFS and the Canaries more generally, as security ramps up and flights are reduced. Tourist numbers will reduce as more depart, and very soon we are likely to have confirmation of the measures proposed yesterday by the Canarian President to limit incoming flights to just 17 daily connections with the mainland. As soon as there is confirmation that the measures are approved or in place I will of course publish the information. Meanwhile, cruise liners are already unable to dock at Canarian ports because of Spanish regulations imposed on all the country’s harbours.
Updated 11pm, 16/3: Sadly, tonight, Sanidad has confirmed Tenerife’s first death from covid19, one of the patients who was in a serious condition. It is the second mortal victim of the virus in the islands following the death of an 80-year-old woman in Gran Canaria last Friday. Both women had underlying health conditions.
Updated 8pm, 16/3: There’s an excellent series of images with straightforward answers to simple but very common questions on Adeje Town Hall’s Facebook page HERE.
Updated 6pm, 16/3: Ten more cases in the Canaries today. Yesterday was 101, today is 110. Nine of them are still in serious condition, eight in Tenerife and one in Gran Canaria. Tenerife’s number remains today at 70 active cases.
Updated 4.45pm, 16/3: Spain is closing its borders at midnight tonight. Only Spanish citizens, foreign citizens legally residing and cross-border workers will be able to enter Spain. The announcement has been made in the last hour by Home Secretary Fernando Grande-Marlaska. The EU itself is currently proposing to close its own external border, and the measure has in any case been adopted independently by Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, and Lithuania.
Updated 4.30pm, 16/3: Sanidad has announced that from Wednesday measures will be introduced to avoid unnecessary trips for patients to health centres to get prescriptions. The aim is to make it easier for patients to be attended to by phone appointment. They will then be able just to go to a chemist with their Tarjeta Sanitaria and nothing else: the medication will be dispensed by the pharmacy without any Treatment Plan or prescription.
Updated 2pm, 16/3: Clearly they’ve had similar enquiries to me since they have to stress that the State of Emergency does indeed apply to tourists as well as everyone else … but here is that and much more information from HMA Hugh Elliott. The message below is specifically to tourists.
While I’m speaking of tourists, I may as well say because it is now openly being published by local media, the Canarian Government is seeking to get to 0% tourism here in the near future. They are considering an “orderly closure of all tourist establishments”, with tourists here repatriated and then flights reduced to just 20 to the mainland daily. I was not going to post this until it was confirmed but it’s now in the public domian. Please note this is not in place yet, but is being proposed by Canarian President Torres to Spain’s PM Sánchez. Obviously he might not approve this: we will have to wait to find out.
For the moment, here is HMA Hugh Elliott speaking to tourists:
An update for tourists in on the latest #coronavirus State of Emergency restrictions
Updated 11am, 16/3: The national Government has said this morning that it is virtually certain that the State of Emergency will last more than the currently planned fortnight. Transport Minister José Luis Ábalos said that a fortnight won’t give Spain the space to win the battle against covid19. Ábalos said that there was no fixed timescale, and that the Government was weighing up various options, including closing Spain’s borders entirely. Clearly the Government is engaged in some expectation management, as well as dealing with the viral outbreak itself: this is not going to be a short-term issue.
Updated 16 March: I’m sure it could easily be lost in the thread of information, but to confirm, Public Health has again said this morning that walking dogs is permitted, provided that it is one owner with their own dog, not in a group of walkers, and that it is out and back, just for the essentials, not “for the dog to have a good run”. What will also interest many is that PH has also formally confirmed that it is permitted to go to feed colonies of cats.
Updated 6pm, 15/3: People have been asking – it’s perhaps the top question I’ve been asked – and so here is the answer. Police say that failure to comply with the measures employed under powers of the State of Emergency is considered a serious offence. “Serious offence” is a distinct legal category and can lead to fines upwards of €100. That sounds relatively insignificant but the top level, for egregious or repeated disobedience is a fine of up to €60,000, summary detention for 10 days, and imprisonment for up to 4 years. The list of state sanctions derives from various pieces of constitutional legislation including the citizen security law, public health and civil protection laws, and the basic law code itself. Police stress in addition that these sanctions apply to disobedience not just of law enforcement agencies but health personnel and private security as well.
Updated 5pm, 15/3: The tourism authorities have issued advice for holidaymakers here at present. They say that under the State of Emergency holidaymakers should stay safely in their accommodation and only go out if they need to do something that is permitted under the emergency legislation. This is limited to buying basic necessities such as food or medicine, going to health centres, providing assistance to the elderly, children, dependents, or the disabled or vulnerable, or to go to a bank.
They are also allowed out under exceptional circumstances beyond their control – as I’ve defined before, this is on the level of being able to leave if the property is on fire. Going out for any of the reasons must be done individually unless the person is helping someone elderly or a dependent or children. Travel in vehicles is permitted only under the same circumstances. Public transport is working but with restrictions and reduced services. Travellers are also advised to check their travel arrangements with their airline before going to the airport.
Updated 3pm, 15/3: Sanidad says that Tenerife now has 12 more active cases than yesterday bringing our total to 70. Gran Canaria has three more with 19. There are two more in La Palma where there are now five, Lanzarote remains on three, La Gomera on one, and Fuerteventura is up two so now has three cases. We therefore have 101 cases in the Canaries, nine of whom are now in serious condition, eight of them in Tenerife, and one in Gran Canaria.
Meanwhile, Canarian President Torres has been engaged in meetings almost continuously for the past 48 hours. He is still currently in a video conference with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez and the Presidents of every other autonomous community in Spain to coordinate the application and enforcement of the State of Emergency. Please see today’s earlier updates (below) for what this means for the public in practice here in Tenerife.
Updated 2pm, 15/3: The Guardia Civil has called on the public to STOP GOING UP TEIDE! They say that the National Park is closed apart from vehicles passing through. There is no stopping anywhere! And non-essential journeys are banned anyway! A “nice drive out” isn’t essential. Stay safe and help keep others safe too! Social responsibility requires us to comply with the State of Emergency. And if we don’t, the Guardia say they will be waiting. Up Teide.
Updated 1pm, 15/3: As police cars are now patrolling the main tourist areas in south Tenerife, the Cabildo has this morning issued a statement relating to the State of Emergency that came into force last night everywhere in Spain, including the Canaries. The Cabildo summarizes some of the measures which most directly affect the general public:
While the State of Emergency is in force, citizens are only permitted to move around in public to carry out the following activities:
a) Acquisition of food, pharmaceutical products and basic necessities. b) To attend health centres, services and facilities. c) Journey to the workplace for professional or corporate services. d) Return to usual place of residence. e) Assistance and care of the elderly, children, dependents, people with disabilities or anyone who is especially vulnerable. f) Journey to financial or insurance institutions g) Due to a force majeure or urgent situation. (h) Any other activity of a similar nature, which will have to be carried out individually unless accompanying a person with a disability, or for another justifiable reason.
Private vehicles will be allowed to circulate in public for the realisation of the activities listed above or to refuel in petrol and service stations.
Roads may be closed entirely or sections thereof.
Citizens are requested to carry out their duty of collaboration and not to impede any member of the authorities from exercising their functions.
All shops and businesses are temporarily closed to the public, with the exception of retailers selling food, drinks, basic necessities, pharmaceutical, medical, optical and orthopaedic products, hygienic products, newsagents, petrol stations, off-licences, technological and telecommunications equipment, pet food, online or telephone trading and correspondence, dry cleaners and laundries. Any other activity or establishment that the competent authority believes may pose a risk of contagion is now closed.
The amount of time spent in commercial establishments whose opening is permitted must be limited only to that strictly necessary for consumers to be able to purchase their food and basic necessities. The consumption of products within the establishments themselves is forbidden. In any case, crowds will be avoided and consumers and employees will be monitored to maintain the safe distance required of at least one metre in order to avoid possible contagion.
All museums, archives, libraries and monuments are now closed to the public, as are premises where public performances are held as well as sports and leisure activities indicated in the annex of this decree.
Hospitality and catering activities are also suspended, although home delivery services are exclusively permitted.
Likewise, celebrations, parades and local festivals are also cancelled.
Attendance at places of worship and civil and religious ceremonies, including funerals, are permitted on condition of the correct organisational measures to avoid crowds of people, depending on the size and characteristics of the places, in such a way as to guarantee attendees the possibility of respecting the distance between them of at least one metre.
Furthermore, the following measures applicable to internal transport are also adopted:
a) For public transport services for road, rail, air and sea passengers that are not subject to public contractor or public service obligations (PSOs), transport operators will reduce operations by at least one 50 %. By the decision of the Ministry for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, this percentage may change and specific conditions may be established.
(b) Public transport services for state-owned road, rail, air and sea passengers subject to a public contract or public service obligation will reduce their operations by at least the following percentages: Regular road traveller transport services – 50%; Air transport services subject to PSO – 50; Maritime transport services subject to navigation contract – 50 %. This decision takes into account the need to ensure that citizens can reach their places of work and basic services if necessary.
(c) Public transport services for road, rail and maritime passengers of autonomous or local competition which are subject to a public contract or public service obligation, or that are publicly owned, shall maintain their current transport offer. The Ministry for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda and the regional and local authorities with transport expertise may establish a percentage reduction of services if the health situation so requires, as well as other specific conditions concerning transport provisions. Adopting these measures will take into account the need to ensure that citizens can access their jobs and basic services if necessary.
(d) Without prejudice to everything set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), specific criteria shall be established for transport between the Spanish mainland and non-mainland territories, as well as for inter-island transport.
The government is also taking measures to ensure adequate food supply, product importation, electricity supply, etc.
Failure or resistance to the orders of the competent authorities during the State of Emergency shall be punished in accordance with the Law
Updated 15 March: In response to the introduction last night of a State of Emergency throughout the whole of Spain, which naturally includes the Canaries, and in reaction to the restrictions that are now in place as a result, the UK’s Ambassador to Spain has sent this message to all British tourists and residents in the country.
Updated 11pm, 14/3: Spain is now under a State of Emergency. HERE is the emergency legislation whose measures and powers entered into effect simultaneous to publication.
Please note that the version of the Law published in the BOE omits the reference that had appeared in the draft relating to our freedom to move until 8.30am on Monday. This means that all the decree’s measures are in force immediately, including bans on our free movement. Please also note that I’ve edited below to strike through the prohibition on walking pets because PM Sánchez says this comes within the definition of necessity, but that animals should be on leads, the walk as short as possible, not in groups, and only for the absolutely essential.
Updated 8pm, 14/3: I can’t quite credit it but various reports indicate pets are being abandoned from people’s fears that they can transmit covid19. They cannot. I do not give advice on the virus, as I hope is known, but this information is confirmed at the absolutely top levels. The World Health Organization itself says:
there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Things are bad globally. Don’t punish your pets. It is the idiots who are spreading this, not animals.
Updated 3pm, 14/3: So, to clarify so far. Under the emergency measures, people can go out for essential reasons. Police at every level are now controlled by Home Office in Madrid. Even the Canarian police. And they are instructed to enforce these measures. Essential reasons are defined as going to work, the bank, the supermarket or chemist. Given the queries I’ve had, I’m afraid this does not include walking pets, going to the beach or hairdresser … (I’ve crossed through walking pets because PM Sánchez says this comes within the definition of necessary, but that animals should be on leads, the walk as short as possible, and only for the absolutely essential.)
This applies throughout the country. Since Spain includes the Canaries, this means Tenerife and the other islands here are subject to these measures.
Transport has not been shut down. The public can go on the bus provided it’s to work, the bank, the chemist etc … not the beach, or the hairdresser … . Cars are allowed out on the roads but only for the same. Non-essential movement is banned. The restrictions are a lockdown on public movement. They require bars, cafes, restaurants to close. See the appendix of the decree for the full list.
Transport hubs like airports are not closed but transport operators will reduce their operations by at least 50% with this possibly subject to increased shutdown as things change. Priorities will be for food and medical supplies. Official advice for passengers is to check with the airlines direct.
The decree is already in force but public movement restrictions are set for 8am on Monday 16th. To repeat, it applies in Tenerife, in the Canaries, in Spain as a whole. EVERYWHERE in the country.
Updated 2pm, 14/3: Just to confirm because it is evidently necessary, yes these measures apply to the Canaries. Since the Canaries are part of Spain, and Spanish PM Sánchez has just announced a national State of Emergency, it is difficult for me to see how anyone could be unsure but there we are. We are part of the nation of Spain. The national State of Emergency applies throughout the country. It therefore applies also to the Canaries. The Canarian President will also announce further regional measures later, to add to those he announced yesterday, and in addition to the national ones announced today by the PM. I hope this is now clear.
Updated 1pm, 14/3: Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has announced that the State of Emergency measures will mean that all police forces will be under the command of the head of the Ministerio del Interior (equivalent to the UK’s Home Office) and will limit personal freedom of movement for the next fortnight. Across the country, the public will only be able to go out to go to work and return home, to buy food or medicines, to attend their doctors, or to go to a bank, or for exceptional reasons. Drivers may go out in their vehicles but only for the same purposes.
The measures will take effect from tomorrow, Sunday 15 March, and place Spain under the control of the Ministries of Defence, Interior, Transport and Health. The full decree is HERE.
Updated 12.30pm, 14/3: Compared with yesterday, Tenerife now has 13 more active cases bringing our total to 58. Gran Canaria has three more with 16, La Palma up one to three, Lanzarote also up one to three, and Fuerteventura 1. There is also a new case in La Gomera. We therefore have 82 cases in the Canaries, two of whom are in serious condition. Still waiting the announcements from PM Sánchez who is currently in the Cabinet Meeting.
Updated 14 March: The FCO has this morning advised against all but essential travel to parts of Spain. These regions are the communities of Madrid and La Rioja, and the municipalities of La Bastida, Vitoria and Miranda de Ebro. The advice does not apply to the Canaries, and airlines are continuing to run flights as normal to and from the whole of Spain (for the moment, and with the exception of Jet2 as explained below).
The FCO says that the advice is because these areas have been designated by Spain as areas of community transmission, and that there is no advice against travel to other parts of Spain, but official travel advice is constantly under review. British nationals with upcoming journeys planned should check with their airlines and tour operators. The FCO says it is not advising those in Spain to leave as transport routes out of the country remain open.
Despite the advice from the FCO, and despite the fact that restrictions so far have only been imposed in some parts of Spain, Jet2 has announced all flights to anywhere in Spain have been cancelled forthwith. This is before the pending announcements that the whole of Spain is awaiting from PM Sánchez later on the specific measures that will be introduced under the extraordinary and extraordinarily wide-ranging powers that the State of Emergency gives him.
Updated 11pmm 13/3: Tenerife President Ángel Víctor Torres has this evening called on the public to exercise the utmost calm they’re able to and to avoid panic buying. Torres spoke after an emergency Government Council, and said that there was ample supply for people not to worry. Whatever else might yet be announced, supermarkets, health centres and pharmacies will remain open during the duration of this health crisis, the President stressed. Torres has stressed time and again that food and basic products supply is guaranteed to the Canaries, and he again repeated that supermarkets and chemists will remain open.
The President also expressed his sadness about the first death in the islands, confirmed earlier. He appealed to the public’s civic sense, and said it is vital to behave with responsibility. The President said that the State of Emergency (in Spanish it’s actually State of Alarm but it’s an equivalence). will inevitably deal with health, economic and social measures linked to the covid19 crisis. He confirmed that once the national Government’s measures were announced, there would be another meeting of the Canarian authorities and discussions with Madrid so that further regional measures could be determined and announced.
Meanwhile, the Private Hospitals Association in Tenerife has put itself and its resources at the disposal of Canarian Health Minister Teresa Cruz. The Association is to collaborate with the state system to avoid a possible saturation of beds and overwhelming of resources. The Association comprises the centres belonging to the Hospiten Group (Hospiten Sur, Hospiten Rambla, Hospiten Bellevue, Hospiten Tamaragua), Quirón (Costa Adeje and Santa Cruz), and Clínica San Juan de Dios. Between them they have 956 beds.
Updated 8.30pm, 13/3: The Tenerife Cabildo says that further to the measures announced yesterday (8pm update yesterday) to prevent the spread of covid19, these further measures will apply from tomorrow. The Teleférico will be closed, as will all visitor centres and museums, walking routes, and all activities within the national park. Vehicles will still be able to drive through the caldera. All councils are advised to close all beaches – this is a recommendation not an instruction but many will comply.
Tonight, too, Canarian President Torres says that there will be further announcements of measures taken by the Canarian Government after the national Government announces its state of emergency measures following tomorrow’s special Saturday cabinet meeting in Madrid.
Finally, tragically tonight, the Canaries can count their first covid19 fatality. An 80-year-old woman has died from the condition. Apart from her age she is said to have had underlying health conditions: she was one of the seriously ill patients in Gran Canaria. Anticipating tomorrow’s announcements, President Torres has urged everyone in the Canaries to stay at home.
Updated 6pm, 13/3: TITSA has announced that it will be temporarily stopping cash payments from next Tuesday, 17 March. The company says that it will only accept Ten+ and mobile payments. The measure is being adopted to try to follow Sanidad’s advice to avoid spreading covid19.
The Canarian Government’s education department meanwhile has said that it is putting 6,000 digital education resources at the disposal of staff to allow them to teach virtually and online.
Updated 2.30pm, 13/3: Sanidad has confirmed the new total for today. We have 14 new cases in Tenerife bringing our total to 45, now 13 in Gran Canaria, 2 in La Palma and 1 in Fuerteventura. There are also now two in Lanzarote. There are therefore 63 active cases in the Canaries. Of the 63, 18 are in hospital, the remainder in home isolation. Of those in hospital, three are in a serious condition, two in Gran Canaria and one in Tenerife.
In the last hour, Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez has decreed a “state of emergency” for the whole of Spain since cases have exceeded 4,200 nationally with over 100 deaths. The measure is less dramatic than it could be presented … it is not panic measures, but is, Sánchez says, a mechanism to mobilize all necessary resources to protect all citizens in the coronavirus crisis. We will be informed of what these measures will mean for us tomorrow after the Government’s cabinet meeting.
Updated 13 March: Sanidad reminds the public that there is a free helpline for any enquiries about coronavirus – 900 112 061. For emergency cases, however, call 112. I suspect they are inundated with calls they don’t consider necessary because the information provided online in official sites, and collaborative sites like In Tenerife, is really all they can offer. They plead with the public not to saturate services, and only call with regard to covid19 if it is about a suspected case or a particular need for specific information not provided in routine announcements.
Updated 11pm, 12/3: Canarian President Torres said this evening that the regional Government is preparing an economic package to alleviate the effects of the covid19 pandemic. They are considering measures such as allowing companies to postpone IGIC payments, and say that the public should rest easy because there is no reason to panic. Torres said that he will be having an online meeting with Spanish PM Sánchez on Saturday and will be requesting further resources for the region in respect of essential services.
Updated 8pm, 12/3: The Tenerife Cabildo has introduced its own measures within the regime introduced yesterday by the Canarian Government. The Cabildo says that they will be in place for at least the next fortnight, with the evolution of the situation being monitored so as to enable the authorities to take decisions as appropriate.
Tenerife President Pedro Martin says that the adoption of the exceptional measures are to attempt to contain the spread of Covid19, and include the suspension or postponement of all sports, cultural, educational or informative activities of a collective nature that are under the organization of the island corporation, whether they take place in open or closed spaces. President Martín said that all the measures are being implemented in coordination with the Canarian Government as well as the other island Cabildos.
The President also referred specifically to decisions taken to protect the elderly, the population at greatest risk, with around 6,000 residential and daytime places within Tenerife’s social policies network. Martín said that in accordance with the Canarian Government’s measures. visits to the elderly in centres linked to the Institute of Social and Socio-sanitary Attention (IASS) are suspended. and clubs and leisure centers for the elderly are closed. Day centre activity where space is shared with residential centres will also be suspended from tomorrow, Friday 13 March.
With regard to essential public services, the Cabildo has adopted preventative measures and action protocols to minimize the risk of contagion among personnel like firefighters, forestry brigades, road maintenance and conservation teams, as well as those manning Tenerife’s integral water cycle. Recreational areas and camping zones, as well as the Santa Cruz-Ofra sports complex which is run by the Cabildo, are now closed, with the Santiago Martín Pavilion and Tenerife Trade Fair Center programmes suspended. Sports and training programmes under the Cabildo’s jurisdiction are also suspended for a fortnight, at present, including the Cabildo Games, the Youth Sports Programme and the Adapted Island Sports Programme.
With regard to public transport, The Cabildo has established measures to guarantee the provision of bus and tram services. Exhaustive additional cleaning and disinfection is carried out with specific products in the areas of common use with particular emphasis on handles, bars, ticket machines, etc., and in the drivers’ cabins. Trams will incorporate an automatic door opening system from tomorrow to avoid users having to touch door buttons.
The Cabildo’s museums, cultural centres and visitors’ centres such as the Casas del Vino and Miel, the Teleférico and the Cueva del Viento will remain open to the public but without organised activities and with controlled capacity.
More widely tonight, Aena has confirmed that flights to the US from any part of Spain are not suspended across the board. Aena says that “the entry to the US is banned for people coming from the Schengen area unless they are American nationals or permanent residents (or their families) for the next 30 days”. Aena recommends passengers to check with airlines. Meanwhile, Morocco has suspended flights to and from Spain until further notice. Flights over Spanish air space or direct to and from the Canaries are not affected. Again, passengers are advised to check with their airline.
Updated 3pm, 12/3: The Canarian Government’s education department has closed all education centres in the Canaries. The measure affects every centre at all levels from infant schools to universities from tomorrow. The closures will last, at present, for the next fortnight. The measure has been taken in conjunction with the Canarian Government’s Health Department, as Sanidad says that students are not under particular risk at all but the centres of education can be rife for the virus to spread and be taken home where more vulnerable people will be subject to the risk.
Updated 12 March: Yesterday’s 20 cases in Tenerife have now, sadly, risen to 31, Sanidad has confirmed this lunchtime. Gran Canaria’s 7 cases have risen to 12, La Palma now has 2, and Fuerteventura still the 1. The total of active cases of Covid19 in the islands is therefore 46.
The Canarian Government has this morning called for public cooperation in abiding by the regime introduced yesterday to attempt to stop the spread of Covid19 in the islands. Sanidad reminded the public that the measures include suspension of school trips beyond the Canaries (though some schools have clearly started imposing their own restrictions on trips within the islands). For his part, President Torres has reiterated that all gatherings over 1,000 are banned throughout the Canaries.
Updated 8.30pm, 11/3: Reassuring words tonight from WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about Spain’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Solo con la implicación y responsabilidad de toda la sociedad, y trabajando de forma coordinada desde las distintas administraciones superaremos esta situación.
Estamos listos, @DrTedros, para luchar unidos frente al #COVID19. Juntos lo lograremos.
Updated 5.15pm, 11/3: Following the Canarian Government’s extraordinary session chaired by President Torres, all social, sporting and cultural events involving more than 1,000 people are suspended. Visits to patients in hospitals are restricted, as are visits to nursing homes. All clubs and social centres for the elderly are suspended for a fortnight. With specific regard to carnivals, the president said that they are activities with a massive influx of people and they are therefore suspended. The Government intends to contain the virus, Torres said, and for that reason it has to take preventative measures, confirmed health minister Teresa Cruz
Updated 5pm, 11/3: The World Health Organization has this afternoon confirmed that it is classifying the Covid19 outbreak as a pandemic. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the cases outside China had increased 13-fold over the last fortnight, and that he was very concerned about “alarming levels of inaction” over the virus. He said that the new classification merely showed that the disease is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time, and reassured the public that although this was the first pandemic of one of the coronavirus family, it was also the first pandemic that the world could control. Dr Tedros urged governments to change the course of the outbreak with “urgent and aggressive action”.
Updated 4pm, 11/3: The Canarian education department has announced that all school trips to anywhere in Spain and abroad are suspended until further notice. Trips between the Canary islands can go ahead. Similarly, all types of work experience in companies or work centres for students in Vocational Training from families involved in healthcare are cancelled, as will further professional groups about which more information will be provided shortly. The Government says that this is a preventive measure adopted for the benefit of students and teachers in Canarian educational centres.
The Government also urges the management of all Canarian educational establishments to make soaps and/or disinfectant gels available to the whole educational community, as well as requesting them to reinforce information to promote respiratory hygiene and hand washing, especially at entrances and exits, after breaks and in school canteens. The companies that carry out cleaning services in public centres will be available for any necessary reinforcement actions.
In view of the hoaxes that circulate on different social platforms and messaging applications, the Education Department expressly denies any schools have been closed for general education. The situation in schools continues as normal and the Government says that it does not consider it necessary to apply additional measures to those of the hygiene measures set out above and previously established.
Meanwhile, Canarian President Torres is currently chairing an extraordinary session, and so more announcements may be expected later. For now, the Government has again stressed the helpline number 900 112 061 for any consultation or information, but 112 for suspected cases.
Updated 11 March: This morning Sanidad has confirmed we have a jump from 13 to 20 cases in Tenerife. Five are in hospital: the four from the group of Italians from the H10 plus one more; the remainder are in home isolation. There is also a new confirmed case in Gran Canaria bringing the total there to seven. Fuerteventura has still only the one. There are therefore 28 active cases in the Canaries.
The Canarian Government will be holding an Executive Committee meeting this afternoon to analyse and agree measures to be taken from now. The meeting will comprise representatives from the Canarian health, tourism and education departments as well as various political agencies such as the Cabildos, DGSE (Emergencies Board).
And finally, given my mailbag, I think it’s best to repeat (again) that Sanidad has a free helpline – 900 112 061 – for the medical staff who man it to attend to any concerns and requests for information from the public. Most importantly, though, anyone who thinks they might have symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19 such as cough, sore throat, fever, breathlessness, etc, should ring 112 not the helpline, and they should not go to a local surgery or hospital without first speaking to emergency services. Tests can then be carried out in the home of the person concerned. The helpline is just for information and advice, not suspected cases.
Updated 2pm: Tenerife has a new case, its 13th in the current outbreak, confirmed this lunchtime by Sanidad. Of the 13, four are the H10 Italians in hospital, three still without symptoms; apart from these four, only one of the other nine is in hospital, the remainder being in home isolation. There are still six confirmed cases in Gran Canaria and one in Fuerteventura: there are thus 20 current confirmed cases in the islands. Of them all only one, in Gran Canaria, is seriously ill at present.
Updated 10 March: Sanidad has confirmed that the regional health authorities will fully incorporate the plans announced by the national Government’s Health Dept last night to include a set of protection measures for specific populations, including the following:
Promoting home care for the elderly
Expressly recommending all older people with chronic or multipathological illnesses, or who have congenital or acquired immunosuppression to avoid going out as much as they can
Recommending everyone to take personal responsibility to avoid unnecessary journeys
Advising anyone who starts to suffer respiratory symptoms and/or fever to stay home and call 112, and not go to health care facilities or to work.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Government has this morning published an “extraordinary measure” banning all direct flights between Spain and Italy.
Updated 11pm: I think it’s best to repeat that Sanidad has a free helpline – 900 112 061 – for the medical staff who man it to attend to any concerns and requests for information from the public. Most importantly, though, anyone who thinks they might have symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19 such as cough, sore throat, fever, breathlessness, etc, should ring 112 not the helpline, and they should not go to a local surgery or hospital without first speaking to emergency services. Tests can then be carried out in the home of the person concerned. The helpline is just for information and advice, not suspected cases.
Updated 9pm: The Canarian Government has announced the precautionary closure of the Colegio Salesianos in La Orotava. The reason is given as elevated absenteeism but it is thought to be the location of one of the “unrelated cases” in Tenerife, thought to be a teacher at the school.
Updated 8.30pm: The national Government’s Health Minister Salvador Illa has announced this evening that the approach to the outbreak in Spain will change, moving from a containment phase to one of reinforced containment. This situation is evolving and special measures are tonight imposed on areas where significant social transmission is occurring.
Currently, in these areas, which are for the moment only the autonomous community of Madrid, the city of Vitoria and town of Labastida (both in the Basque Country), schools will be closed, and the public has been urged to take personal responsibility and avoid unnecessary travel. This means that people are advised to work telematically wherever possible, to stagger working hours and shifts to reduce worker concentrations, and to hold meetings by videoconference.
Throughout the whole of Spain, the Health Department’s Interterritorial Council has agreed a set of protection measures for specific populations, i.e. the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Anyone who is elderly or suffers from chronic, multi-pathological conditions, or with congenital or acquired immunosuppression should stay at home as much as possible. Certainly they should avoid crowded places where it is not possible to maintain the interpersonal safety distance of at least 1m. Anyone who begins to experience respiratory symptoms and/or fever is advised to stay at home and call 112 for appropriate instructions.
In the Canaries this evening, Sanidad has confirmed two new cases in Gran Canaria. Both are Dutch tourists who are in good condition and in isolation. The current tally is therefore 19: 12 in Tenerife, 6 in Gran Canaria, and 1 in Fuerteventura. And in literally the last few minutes, the Italian lockdown has been extended by PM Conte to the whole of Italy, not just the most severely affected areas of the north. Unprecedented peacetime measures.
Updated 5.15pm: There are two advice pages from the UK Government for those concerned about covid-19. The page HERE provides general information, and the one HERE gives answers to commonly asked questions.
Updated 9 March: Tenerife has one new case this morning, someone who was in close contact with one of the patients in home isolation. The new case brings the island’s total to 12 active cases. Four are from the group of H10 Italian tourists (3 still without symptoms), of the other eight here, only one is in hospital, the others being in isolation at home.
In Gran Canaria, a second patient of the group of four has now been taken into hospital, one is said to be in a serious but stable condition. Both these patients had underlying health conditions.
Back in Tenerife, the quarantine at the H10 has been lifted today and so any guests who had not already left can now do so.
Updated 8pm: Sanidad says this evening that two Italians from the H10 who have been in hospital have now got a double negative test result. They will be released from hospital in coming hours. We are down to 11 in Tenerife.
Updated 7pm: This is Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. This is an analysis of the global sitation with specific respect to this COVID-19 outbreak. We should all pay heed. It is not scaremongering, but authoritative. It also accords this virus the respect it deserves when the likes of Donald Trump and his followers are downplaying it and calling it “corona flu”. If it is like anything to do with flu, it equates most to “Spanish Flu” … and that alone shows how seriously we need to take this illness. We can do this without panic, but we must do it.
Updated 8 March: No news is good news, and we have only consolidation news today, no new cases. And that is very good news! Sanidad reconfirms today that Tenerife has 13 cases:
6 Italian tourists from the H10. All are in hospital but only one has symptoms;
4 in La Laguna, an Italian resident in Tenerife recently arrived back from the affected part of his country, and three of his close contacts. All are in home isolation and with either slight or no symptoms;
3 further cases unrelated to the former or each other. One is in hospital with some symptoms, another in home isolation with no symptoms, and a third in home isolation no longer suffering symptoms that they had previously.
In Gran Canaria there are still only the four cases in Agüimes, 3 in home isolation but the fourth now in hospital. All have some symptoms. Finally, the Fuerteventura case is a Canarian recently returned from an affected part of Italy. They are in home isolation and without symptoms.
The H10 departure operation continues with 643 guests having left by 11am this morning.
Updated 8.30pm: Sanidad has registered three new cases of COVID-19 in the Canaries this evening, two in Tenerife and one in Fuerteventura. In Tenerife, one is in hospital having recently returned from one of the main areas affected in Italy which as of tonight is in lockdown until 3 April. They have symptoms but another in Tenerife is symptom free and so is under home isolation. The Fuerteventura case is also home isolated and symptom free at present: they are said to have had contact with Italian nationals.
In Gran Canaria, one of the four Italians whose case is already recorded has now been taken to hospital from home isolation. We are now at 18 cases: 13 in Tenerife (7 in hospital, 6 in home isolation); 4 in Gran Canaria (1 in hospital, 3 at home); and now 1 in Fuerteventura (home).
Updated 5pm: Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has given some recommendations for the general public to be able to continue to live their daily lives, but to do it mindfully and safely. As Dr Tedros says, “the world is fighting COVID-19 together as one. And yet life must go on. I hope everyone is taking rest this weekend.” His recommendations, in bullet point form are:
Do something healthy. If you can, get outside, enjoy fresh air, take a walk or bike ride with family and friends.
If you can’t go outside, you might try yoga or tai chi inside your home. Continue washing your hands often and with care, following WHO guidelines.
Use soap or commercial hand sanitizer. Soap is actually great if local shops have run out of sanitizer solution.
If you’re feeling unwell, stay home. If your friend or relatives are unwell, don’t visit them, especially if they’re in an elder care facility or nursing home. You can always phone them up or communicate digitally.
When greeting people, best to avoid elbow bumps because they put you within one meter of the other person. He says he likes to put his hand on his heart when he greets people these days.
Updated 7 March: Sanidad says this lunchtime that another case has been confirmed in Tenerife, a third close contact of the La Laguna patient. We now have 15 active cases in the Canaries, 11 in Tenerife – 6 Italian tourists from the H10 now in hospital, 4 now in La Laguna municipio isolated at home, yesterday’s new case in Santa Cruz isolated at home – and 4 in Gran Canaria, all Italian tourists in Agüimes.
Three cases have already recovered – the two Germans in La Gomera and the British woman in Tenerife from the H10. I should like to emphasize Sanidad’s information that all the current cases in the Canaries are either without symptoms or experiencing symptoms only lightly. None are in a condition that’s remotely serious, and certainly none are expected to do anything other than make a complete recovery.
With regard to the guests still in the H10, Sanidad says that the operation of departures continues with 525 guests having left by lunchtime today, all under established protocol.
Updated 8pm: The latest case is in Santa Cruz, Sanidad has confirmed this evening. It is a patient who has recently returned from Italy. There are now 14 positives in the Canaries. In Tenerife, 6 Italians from the H10; 3 in La Laguna, an Italian and two close contacts; the new case in Santa Cruz; and the 4 Italians in Gran Canaria. Three cases have already recovered – the two Germans in La Gomera and the British woman in Tenerife from the H10.
Updated 4pm: Sanidad has confirmed a new case in Tenerife, someone who travelled from a high-risk area. They are currently in isolation and in good shape. More follows.
Updated 3pm: Sanidad has confirmed three new cases in Gran Canaria. The three are close contacts of the Italian who so far has been the only case in the island. All four are isolated and in good shape. There are now 12 active cases in the Canaries: 8 in Tenerife – 6 from the H10 and 2 in La Laguna, and 4 in Gran Canaria.
Updated 6 March: Sanidad has confirmed a new case in La Laguna, of someone who had close contact with the case confirmed yesterday in the same municipio. Both are in isolation and good health. There are now nine active cases in the Canaries: 8 in Tenerife – 6 from the H10 and 2 in La Laguna, and 1 Italian tourist in Gran Canaria.
Updated 8pm: Another case has been confirmed by Sanidad in Tenerife. Again it is a guest in the H10, a close contact of one of the Italians in hospital. As of 6pm, the operation for guests confirmed to be clear of COVID19 to depart the hotel continues with 443 departures, half the guests who were present when the protection measures were introduced. There are now seven cases in Tenerife, the five Italian holidaymakers, the new guest at the hotel whose identity is still to be confirmed, and the Italian resident of La Laguna.
Updated 5.30pm: There is now a first case in Gran Canaria, an Italian tourist. There are now the six cases in Tenerife, five Italian holidaymakers from the H10 and today’s case of the Italian La Laguna resident, and the new one in Gran Canaria.
Updated 5 March: Sanidad has confirmed this lunchtime a new positive result for Covid19 in Tenerife, this time in the municipio of La Laguna. The person is an Italian national resident in Tenerife who has recently returned from his home country. He is in good health and remains isolated at home. Obviously further news will be forthcoming.
The group of six holidaymakers from the H10 remain the only other confirmed cases in Tenerife. The six are progressing well, in good shape, and remain isolated in hospital with regular blood tests being taken. The British patient has, indeed, now tested negative twice and will be released in the near future as will any others whose tests return a double negative result, as has already also happened to the two cases in La Gomera. At the H10 itself, 246 guests had left as of last evening, with the scaled departures continuing today., some 400 expecting to leave within hours.
Nationally, Spanish Health minister Salvador Illa has said today he is travelling to Brussels for meetings to coordinate the EU-wide response to the outbreak. Illa sent his commiserations to the families of the now three individuals who have died in Spain from Covid19 so far, and confirmed the latest number of cases registered this lunchtime is 208 (the figures include those who have recovered).
Updated 3.30pm: And the hoped for news has been confirmed. Sanidad says that the German woman in La Gomera has now tested negative and that negative has been confirmed in a second test by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. She will be released from hospital in the next few hours. The Canaries will therefore have just the six cases in Tenerife, five Italians and the British woman. All six are in good shape and their condition is progressing well.
Nationally, Spain has now recorded 198 cases by noon today. Here, Canarian President Torres has said that they won’t again lockdown an entire hotel should there be another case in Tenerife. Instead, using the experience gained in the H10 quarantine, other measures will be taken that will not require the isolation of all guests and employees but only those affected and those in their immediate environment, but still within the established approved and necessary security and prevention measures. The President said that protocols are updated daily within the framework of advice from the national Government, the EU, and the WHO, and that they are based on all requirements for responding to a global health alert such as coronavirus.
Torres stressed that the rapid intervention of the Canarian Government and its health department Sanidad has enabled Tenerife to limit the outbreak to these six cases and show that we are a secure destination. In terms of the H10 itself the President said that the plan of departures for guests continues, with 215 leaving as of 7pm yesterday. As we already know, they are allowed to leave under the three conditions of being asymptomatic 24 hours before departure, to have tested negative less than 24 hours before departure, and with a guaranteed plan from their home country for their return and monitoring. British guests are being told, however, that their original home quarantine of 14 days must now be extended since a British guest has tested positive: it will now be 14 days from 2 March, the date of that positive result.
Most importantly, and as the BBC’s Dan Johnson put it so well, life goes on as normal here, with no effects beyond the hotel to alter daily routines either in tourist areas or the rest of the island. Everything is open, normality reigns, and everyone and everything is calm. There is official advice in English on protecting oneself from the virus HERE but this is a beautiful and wonderful place in which there are six isolated cases. Not many parts of the world can actually say that right now.
Updated 4 March: Fingers crossed for later when the German patient in La Gomera is retested. Canarian President Torres himself said this morning that if these tests come back negative he could be released from hospital. Meanwhile, in a post that will do us far more good that any amount of tourism promotional material, the BBC’s Dan Johnson has tweeted the following after returning from Tenerife where he was one of the BBC’s crew reporting on the outbreak at the H10. It’s an excellent promotion for us, and will be read around the world!
Updated 9pm: British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott has said this evening that the FCO is continuing to work with the Spanishauthorities to get British nationals in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel home as quickly as possible. The ambassador apologises for any confusion about testing and flights arrangements, and says that it has been a complex situation with over 100 already home. He confirms that a process has been agreed with the Spanish authorities to ensure that required testing can be programmed, and all British nationals in the hotel should now have had an email from the FCO directly or a letter via the hotel. Anyone who has not should get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also tonight, sadly, Spain has confirmed its first death from the virus. It is the case of a 69-year-old man who died in Valencia on 13 February from pneumonia: he had been visiting Nepal which has a border with China but is not considered an area of risk due to suffering just one case of the virus. Subsequent tests, however, as the outbreak in Spain worsened, have confirmed that his pneumonia was indeed coronavirus COVID-19.
Updated 5.30pm: As of 5pm, the Spanish Public Health authorities have confirmed that coronavirus cases in Spain now number 151: Andalucía 13, Asturias 1, Baleares 3, Canarias 7, Cantabria 10, CyL 8, CLM 7, Cataluña 15, C. Valenciana 15, Extremadura 6, Madrid 49, Navarra 1, País Vasco 13, La Rioja 3.