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Today 2nd June 2020... Another 3 cases at the rest home of La Salita, the number in hospital rises again as the positive figures from the antibody test results finally are added to the country statistics...
Today French residents have full access to Andorra as Andorra does to France (only). The queues at Pas de la Casa that you may have seen in the paper wrongly referred to the queues to access Andorra, in fact they were the queues mid morning to get out of Andorra. Apparently the French border queue started about 0500 to get into Andorra and the queues for the supermarkets opening started soon after. Due to the volume of people they were requested 10 minutes each per shopper in some supermarkets. A total of 3,843 French cars crossed the border yesterday. As far as the Spanish border is concerned unless the judicial review on extending to Andorra gives the green light the border will remain closed very certainly until 8th June and almost certainly until 21st June (correction) since Spain has recommended that there is one last definite extension to the state of emergency until then. After that and instead of as originally planned for 1st July, there will be unrestricted access for all visitors from that date from "many but not all" countries.
This at a time when New Zealand, which has had no new cases for 11 days and has now only one active case, intends to continue to deny access to all visitors to avoid any imported resurgence. Here in Europe for example during these same 11 days France registered 7,712 new cases and 841 new deaths. Just as a comparison since the start of the pandemic New Zealand who enforced strict compliance from day one has only ever had 1,504 cases and 22 deaths. (France 189,220 cases and 28,833 deaths). I will reserve comment!!
Concerning the queues that developed yesterday when the shops finally opened so people could rush in and buy a new scarf or a laser pen, there is an offer of 3,000 euros for the best suggestion on how to reduce the queues. Mine of closing the shops again was rejected....
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So what are the latest statistics?
Latest Figures for Andorra - 02/06/2020
Total cases recorded in Andorra - 844 (New figure finally includes antibody and follow up positives but also +4 new cases 3 of which are from La Salita rest home now transferred to hospital).
Total cases recovered - 733 (new figure)
Total active cases - 60 (new figure)
Total deaths recorded - 51 (+/-0)
Patients still in hospital - 7 (+3) and 0 in intensive care
The Health Minister announces a promising levelling off of new cases and now falls in active cases.
It seems the two week count down from 31 st March was about right !!
The chart below courtesy of the Diari d'Andorra
I did keep up to date statistics that compared Andorra to sizeable countries such as France and Spain for death rates, infected rates and other depressing facts (Now moved to here) that prompted me to look for more optimistic comparisons, so here we have....
Andorra has spent 430,000 euros on protective clothes and equipment for our frontline heroes.
Taking into account the Andorra population of 78, 000, lets see what the proportionate spending in other countries would be by population:-
- France ( 66.9m) 368,807,692.31 euros (YES, nearly 369 MILLION euros just on protective materials)
- Spain (46.67m) 257,283,333.33 euros
- UK ( 66.65m) 367,441,450.82 euros
Lets see for antibody tests:- (same criteria proportionately)
- Andorra 150,000 tests for which Andorra has paid 9.57 euros each, a total of 1,435,500 euros
- France 128,653,846 tests for which France would have to pay a staggering 1,231,217,306.22 euros (1.23 billion euros!)
- Spain 89,751,077 tests and Spain would pay 860,712,828.43 euros
- UK 128,034,650 tests similar cost to France at 1,225,291,600.5 (!.23 billion euros!)
I will let you do your own research on how many other countries have actually ordered what but full marks to the authorities here. Now is that a bit more uplifting ?
Back to the more depressing subject, for live worldwide statistics please see here. This is by far the most comprehensive and updated website out there.
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. However it has ben proven that temperature itself does not kill the virus, it may just survive for less time outside the above conditions.
Thought of the Day!!
Since oil prices have now turned negative, does that mean the petrol stations will pay us to fill up the car/heating oil??
Face masks ARE now obligatory when you are out of your house
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. Home made face covers are (also based on the websites below) more effective and of course can be washed and re-used.
Be aware that the masks on issue are one-use 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 obligatory from Thursday 16th April 2020:-
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 still may 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. The state of emergency thankfully may not be needed as Andorra is abiding by the confinement and restrictions.
By next week the Government hopes to have 50 testing points for the antibody test. 150,000 will arrive on or about 20th April. The priority will be to test the most vulnerable and then all of the population. For those positive to antibodies they will then be required to take the test for the virus to eliminate whether the virus is active or is the inactive footprint of having been exposed. This will be a world leader in testing an entire population of a country, but has hit a problem.
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 due to virus exposure either themselves or within the company 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 MUST self isolate for 14 days, it is now obligatory.
There may be an issue concerning second homes: If you are a returning resident why are you returning? If you have a property in A N Other country, why do you need to come to Andorra, this is the type of question you will need to be prepared for in addition to crossing the neighbouring countries and enforcement of those authorities. Stay where you are is 100%.
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. For entry into France you must register in advance and have with you the printed certificate for inspection on demand. This also however, does not guarantee entry!
Even the signposts are bored....
If you are not a resident and trying to enter you must have a valid and acceptable reason to do so. you cannot.
The question arose for example that if you have a rental contract as a non resident would they let you in? The answer is "NO". and not even a non resident spouse or child!
So what happens to official documentation such as my renewal, application and the like?
If you are here in person then the active desk can make appointments for regsitration of births, and changes of civil status as well as new applications. The latter is a little mystifying as non residents are not allowed into Andorra, and yes you guessed it, coming to make an application for residency is not an acceptable reason!
The passive desk is similar, very limited appointments to persons, none to gestors or other "representatives" it must be the person concerned. Please let me know on any additional feedback on your experiences here.
Immigration are also encouraging the use of email for forms etc where the originals can always be given to them at a later stage. This means that renewals can go through in theory that is. As an update, nothing is coming through albeit they are accepting email submissions but they are "pending" and realistically of little or no use at all as we have found out. Do not though be concerned about deadlines or expiry dates, everything will I am told be more flexible as and when anything starts to move.
Everything is subject to change at short notice especially as the police have been 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.
MRW and other couriers are working normally if you do need anything couriered out or in we advise not to use postal services which as over stretched with little if anything getting through.
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 waiting is really all you can presently do, especially if you are not here in Andorra!
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, and will likely be questioned as to the need, 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 YET, 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 a quarantine not a holiday. If you want some fresh air there is no harm in having a walk (discouraged by the authorities but with a common sense balance of needs and well being versus risk) so 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 !!
ANDORRA - The health minister declares Andorra to be advanced in the use of chloroquinine ( Used against malaria years ago) and will be available to even those with light symptoms to lessen the level of contagion... On 25-04-2020 it was announced that Andorra was no longer taking part in a study to diagnose the effectiveness of chloroquinine due to legal and insurance problems (?).
SWEDEN - Swedish hospitals abandon trial of promising malaria drug chloroquine for coronavirus patients after it caused them blinding headaches, vision loss and agonising cramps
One avid reader has suggested in Sweden that it might just have been the virus causing these problems !!?
USA - Tests there revealed that use of chloroquinine may be raising the death toll and may be counter productive..