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The plan for the staged reopening of Andorra when appropriate. Post Note 5th April 2020, the Government denies this is policy and is just a "think tank" study.
So what are the latest statistics?
Cumulative cases total 564 Deaths 23 Recovered 52 Active 489
In Hospital 52 where 35 are in wards and 17 in intensive care 14 on respirators
The main concern remains that 91 of the affected are in the health sector ( 3 have recovered) and 19 in the disciplined services (Police, Fire etc), This is a significant figure and these sectors remain far too vulnerable. The rest home of El Cedre has 44 positive including 17 from the other home of Salita. The 24 year old is now off the respirator with marked improvement but the 40 year old health professional remains critical on the ventilator. We are now in the fourth day where there has been NO new admissions to intensive care, also a further 9 ventilators have either arrived or will do so by tomorrow.
The number of increases continues and further increases will occur within the next couple of days (becoming an increasingly optimistic scenario) at which point they expect a peak in the positive/active numbers if the measures are indeed working. (NOTE: I have kept the countdown of days since the original announcement (17th March 2020)), it is clear that this may well prove to be on the optimistic side, let's see.
The Health Minister now expects the peak to be ONE to TWO weeks from now, starting the countdown again.....
The chart below courtesy of the Diari d'Andorra
For live worldwide statistics please see here. This is by far the most comprehensive and updated website out there.
Whilst the total of positive cases in Andorra might not sound overwhelming compared to other countries, if you translate this figure of 545 cumulative cases to the population of France proportionately by population there would be more than 467,442 positive cases (!) Number of cases divided by total population - 78,0000 - multiplied by the population of France - 66.9M -)
For Spain (46.67M) the same calculation the sum would be 326,091 positive cases.
Although this method of simple population is inaccurate, crude and for interest from a different perspective only, it should be noted that on the Global statistics Andorra is the THIRD highest country by infected persons per 100,000 population, San Marino is way ahead being in the Italian hotspot area and only having a small population.
The Andorra death rate is currently 2.33 deaths for each 10,000 inhabitants. in Spain the figure is 2.66 per 10,000 and in Italy it is 2.54 per 10,000. In terms of deaths as above Andorra is fourth in the global charts.
0.563% of the Andorra population have now tested positive, that is one person in every 178 persons!
On a happier note the number of PCR tests carried out (as at 07 April 2020) of 1,673 represents a figure of 21,653 perons teste per 1 million population and places Andorra 9th in the world.
Proportionately or not, it is clear that Andorra is being hit very significantly.
The main objective is to push back this peak (see here) so the health service is not overwhelmed. Once this peak is reached the authorities will have a clear idea of how to manage the outbreak in terms of hospital beds and intensive care requirements.
Yesterday it was revealed that there is one respirator per 2,500 residents, Andorra by calculation has about 30 available (these figures have been updated to the downside 27th March 2020 and there are 20 ventilators) (6.... 10 now being used in intensive care including a 24 year old female). The Health Minister announces that with the average patient requiring a ventilator for 28 days, he is very worried about this situation.
The number of testing has been able to be increased dramatically with the arrival of kits and a testing machine. Now admitted that these have been delayed (27 March 2020)
The authorities remain confident that the peak will soon be reached (CAVEAT: see here). The big test will be whether the sealing of borders and measures taken are effective. In a night mare scenario that they are not then that will be the serious one. It is clear that in the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment isolation is the only solution and geographically Andorra should be the best placed country to ensure that perfect isolation once the current hotspots have been brought under control. There are though still quite a number of Andorrans and residents wanting to return, and if these persons do return, isolation is of the utmost importance, it cannot be stressed enough.
It is also interesting to note that studies now indicate the virus enjoys temperatures where the average is 5 - 11 degrees and humidity 47 - 49%. This covers most of Europe currently (Wuhan also had similar temperatures during the height of their outbreak) but Andorra being at altitude, low humidity and more extreme diurnal temperatures may indicate that the virus would not be able to last as long on transmittable surfaces.
Face masks will become obligatory
The Government are providing two facemasks each at 0.90 cents. This is distributed on the basis of your CASS card and is recorded as issued at the farmacy where you apply. The rules for passive residents are vague, I have had reports that some farmacies will issue the masks with just the residency card, others may not. I have checked with the local friendly farmacist who says that they are intended to be issued on the production of CASS cards but there is leniency in the system.
All farmacies have on order bulk purchases of their own masks and can be purchased most likely by the end of the week. Home made face covers seem ( also based on the websites below) to be more effective and of course can be washed and re-used.
Be aware that the masks on issue are disposable, they are not designed for re-using and do not in any way lower the need for washing hands and sanitising. This is the type of mask that is being issued. Please pay attention to what not to do, no touching, and correct way of disposal in the links below.
The jury has been out as to whether these masks ( or others) are effective in blocking transmission, without getting into those arguments you can read some relevant sites here and remember regardless of your views they are likely to become obligatory:-
Could this be the real reason Andorra is being hit so significantly?
The number of visitors to Andorra for February 2020 shows a significant increase of 9.2% over the previous year to 746.678 visitors, predominantly of course from France and Spain. It is interesting to note that the first case of coronavirus in France was 23rd January 2020 and in Spain 30th January 2020. The border began partial restriction on 16th March 2020. The first case diagnosed in Andorra was March 1st 2020.
On 16th March, in Spain the number of cases was 9,942 and 342 deaths, and in France the figures were 6,473 cases and 148 deaths.
The Andorran authorities should receive nothing but the highest praise for the way they have now dealt with this pandemic and importantly also its' citizens and residents who are reacting so positively to controls (I can think of many, many places I would rather not be right now!).
However, while the whole world is on a learning curve, hindsight remains a uselsss tool!
On a lighter note if you have not heard this, it has been voted by far the most entertaining of all of similar doing the rounds...
So what happens from here?
Hopefully for the same reason that Andorra has little or no crime in that they can close two simple roads that come in and out of the country will be the reason why Andorra logically should be one of the safest countries on the planet. The current quarantine lockdown period has been extended indefinitely "until further notice" and even may be tightened to a possible state of emergency (the next and final level which can order people not to leave their houses without permission, limit supplies and generally place the country on a "war footing") until such time as no new infections are reported.
What are the authorities doing for the residents?
If you are concerned about official documentation, and that includes renewals of residencies, applications, driving licenses and the rest please see here. I will try to keep you updated as to how the government battled through this very difficult time.
With effect from 18th March 2020 everything, businesses and non essential areas has been shut except farmacies, supermarkets, and petrol stations. The EU has closed all external borders which includes Andorra however there have been exemptions for Andorra to have commercial deliveries and those justified in travelling ( medical, emergency and diplomats). So rest assured though that lorries and deliveries are continuing to be allowed in and out and that it is clear on the streets there are quite a few deliveries taking place for supermarkets and other businesses such as butchers.
Those workers who are not allowed to work will be treated as on sick leave and will be paid by the CASS accordingly. The Andorran Government has been quick to announce a series of measures intended to help both local businesses and workers. There are reductions in the Cass contributions and allowed delays in paying electricity and phone bills as well as fines(!) Law and order is still very much a part of life, parking fees have also been relaxed in some parishes. and if you are concerned about official documentation, and that includes renewals of residencies, applications, driving licenses and the rest please see here. I will try to keep you updated as to how the government battled through this very difficult time.
I am a returning resident, can I get in ??
Currently the answer is yes through both the French and Spanish side. As a returning resident they will allow you entry but you will be advised to self isolate as common sense dictates. I am aware of some Andorran nationals attempting to get back from places such as Tenerife, the importance of self isolation is paramount to avoid newly imported cases and subsequent infections.
Spanish and French residents in Andorra are also likewise allowed to enter their respective countries. For Andorran residents wishing to get out, that is more of an issue and justifiable reasons need to be given. Andbus is still running a limited service for those with airport tickets but in reality everything is changing at short notice so beware and be safe.
If you are not a resident and trying to enter you must have a valid and acceptable reason to do so. The question has arisen that if you have a rental contract as a non resident would they let you in? I guess it would depend on who you speak to, but in the interests of yourself and importantly for Andorra I would urge the answer be "NO".
So what happens to official documentation such as my renewal, application and the like?
Immigration is now no longer dealing with members of the public but there remains a limited phone and internet access.
MRW is working normally if you do need anything couriered out or in.
Immigration have encouraged people to email forms and the originals can always be given to them at a later stage. This means that renewals can go through in theory that is. Everything is subject to change at short notice especially as the police are being hit significantly in this outbreak. I myself have submitted some documents by email as requested but the response is that virtually nothing is being processed unless exceptionally urgent. I am continuing to request this policy is looked at especially if this lockdown drags on as it appears it will do.
A recent returning resident has advised that airlines into Spain are only allowing Spanish residents on (presumably the same for France). I recommend you not only have your residency card with you but also a printout of the Schengen accord with France, Spain and Andorra and be prepared to argue up as many levels of management as possible. Remember the quarantine isolation period of 14 days for returning residents in now obligatory rather than advisory.
I will do all I can to update news on various aspects, but it looks like we are in for the long haul. If you are waiting for your new card or process then that is really all yu can presently do!
What can I actually do, myself and my family? Am I allowed out?
The object of this confinement is to prevent the virus spreading from one to another by being given the chance, it is a social disease. Ideally they would like everyone not to go out at all, in an ideal world this would starve the virus of new hosts and it would die out by either the immune system killing it or it killing the host as is happening.
Realistically there are essential human needs so they advise (and at this stage it is only advice, the police do not yet have the powers to fine individuals as these needs are regarded as a human right). This may change with the State of Emergency laws that have been passed but NOT yet activated.
- You are advised to go shopping only when required, one person from each household and when shopping to adhere to the requirements of the shops, minimum distance of 2 metres apart and disposable gloves. Masks are not compulsory, it is up to the individual.
- You are advised not to go walking in the mountains, the pistes are out of bounds (and you can be fined there) and generally they do not want any incident that may require medical attention for obvious reasons. All public parks are closed and they will not allow any gatherings outside. BBQs etc are also not allowed, we are reminded that this is quarantine not a holiday. If you want some fresh air there is no harm in having a walk providing you do not have contact with others, they are NOT preventing you from going out, they are advising that they would prefer the ideal world.
- You are advised that you should only go out in the car for essential trips, only to the farmacy, petrol station or supermarkets. They also would prefer one person only to go out from each household and you may well be stopped by the police and sent home if there are two in the car.
If it comes to the state of emergency laws being promulgated all of the above will change, the police will have the right of enforcement to prevent people going outside at all if necessary, they can also limit the basic essentials of supermarkets, food supplies and other methods to focus 100% on the "war".
Speaking of wars, the generations before were both conscripted and offered their services to the battle at the frontline, with a life exepctancy in no mans land of no more than 10 minutes in filthy rat infested trenches whilst suffering the agony of typhoid, trenchfoot and mustard gas. This generation is being asked to go home, sit on the sofa, and watch Netflix, not that hard surely. Good to see in Andorra that this is happening, sad to see in other countries it still has not yet sunk in !!
Also this is the standard of reporting here that needs to be more careful "El ministre afirma que si no es tenen símptomes durant els 14 dies de confinament, no és necessari fer cap control", which means if you are in isolation and have not had any symptoms for 14 days you are no longer subject to controls..... Does this mean then I can take a trip into Spain or just catch it here by not self isolating any more ?? It really is confusing as if we need any more confusion !!!