Latest COVID news headlines...
Andorra's short but privileged position amongst the 20 or so virus free countries came to an abrupt end on 13th July 2020 as new Covid cases were diagnosed. The situation in Europe is becoming more fluid by the day and more confusing for travellers. The rates in Europe are approaching levels that concern all Governments including clearly Andorra once again.
As of now 21/09/2020 the limit for family and friends to meet inside or out is a maximum of 5 unless the family living together exceeds 5, also another exception is a wedding, communion, or a funeral where a maximum of 10 may attend. The maximum number at a table in a restaurant is reduced to 5 and service at all bars is now prohibited and tables in the bars both outside and inside are limited to 2 persons with the prescribed separation. Group activities in places like gyms etc are prohibited whilst the use of masks is now obligatory for individual sessions in gyms etc. If you need to smoke, do not walk, you must find an isolated spot and remain there! Children's parks are to close again. These new measures will remain in effect for 15 days pending analysis of infections.
Andorra's rate per 100,000 is now 554 as winter approaches *
*Note that as in the pandemic the figures are skewed somewhat by virtue of the small population (77,500) ... remember the No 1 position was occupied by the Vatican back in the early days !!
Andorra has been included in the EU acquisition of mass vaccines to be purchased from the front runner Oxford University. The EU will set aside enough vaccines initially for 30% of the population here. The race is on to have mass production of a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year, although early 2021 is more likely as further vaccine test results are awaited.
- Facemasks are obligatory everywhere in Andorra, Catalunya, and France.
- Voluntary, free TMA active antigen tests are now available to anyone by prior appointment without the need for a GP prescription. This is a new measure openly available to anyone with or without symptoms. The number to call is 821955 and they can do 600 tests per day. They will only notify you if it is positive, if you require a certificate that you are negative (for travel or for work for example) then you need to get that from your registered GP. The tests will now be done at open air carpark in Prat de la Creu. This is for residents only, non residents should apply to the private laboratory PASTEUR, advanced bookings are mandatory.
Local media feedback is that people are far from happy being faced with these new restrictions after all the tourists have gone, but....
- The virus cannot tell the time, the virus cannot count, the virus cannot tell the age of the host, and you think the virus is stupid?
- If you catch the virus there are only two known outcomes either you kill it, or it kills you.
- As far as the virus is concerned no lives matter.
Access to Andorra and neighbouring countries' borders :-
The EU has opened external borders to some international travellers. There is a good interactive map here (new window will open) for all countries that detail their individual travel and quarantine requirements, except of course Andorra that is too small to click on and annoyingly is also left out of most International sites of this nature...
It has been correctly pointed out that it is not necessarily your nationality that counts towards whether or not quarantine applies but from where you are arriving.
Travellers returning from Spain to the UK are subject to 14 days quarantine on return. This restriction now includes Andorra directly and those returning to the UK will be then be subject to quarantine. If you need to return to UK from Andorra and until the situation changes then you can still return via France to the UK....
The Government has announced the latest measures for those visiting Andorra and they very specifically are for persons arriving other than from the European Union, or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, the United Kingdom, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican, regardless of whether or not they are nationals or residents.:-
Will be subject to home confirment in Andorra for 2 weeks (other than for diplomats, medical workers etc).
This 2 weeks obligation can be lifted in the following circumstances:-
a) People who prove immunity with serology of total antibodies or with IgG in serum sample at the time of entry or up to four weeks before access to Andorra can avoid all confinement obligations.
b) People who on entry to Andorra can prove a PCR / TMA test or negative equivalent and who after seven days after entering the country can prove a new PCR / TMA test or negative equivalent may terminate the isolation; however, they will have to maintain passive surveillance for up to fifteen days.
Please note that passive surveillance is not defined. Also importantly not yet defined is the time limit from the PCR/TMA test that was taken before entry to Andorra as in b) above.
Please also note that the list of 15 countries whose nationals can enter the EU without confinement does NOT apply to Andorra as previously thought so the confinement measures will apply as above.
The Government has made it clear that in the event of a resurgence of the virus there will not be a general lockdown again, rather they are convinced that a targeted test and trace will be enough to deal with any outbreak, but as is happening in various parts of Spain the Government may not have the luxury of that option.....
France has advised its nationals not to visit Catalunya and other parts of Spain but has stopped short of closing the borders and Andorra remains unaffected by the advisories. However, that is not the case for Norway, Switzerland, UK, Finland and others which has included Andorra in the their quarantine red list.
There is no restriction on entering Andorra from France or Spain for any national other than to observe distancing, masks and hygiene requirements, and importantly the self confinement rule for the countries as above.
Entry to Spain is now the same as to France and by extension into Andorra. Certain parts of Spain including neighbouring Catalunya have returned to advisory and some to mandatory confinement so check before travel.
Daily Figures for Andorra
The figures will continue to be updated as below as the virus continues to affect Andorra.
Latest Figures for Andorra - 22/09/2020
With no new cases since June 18th Andorra was...... sadly though as from 13/07/2020 this was no longer the case....
COVID 19.2 - As long Andorra remains completely open and full of tourists the figures are destined to rise: Logically then now the holiday season is over, figures should be about to drop...Lets see and hope!
Total cases recorded in Andorra - 1,681 (+117) (change on previous reported figures)
Total cases recovered - 1,199 (+35)
Total active cases - 429 (+82)
Total deaths recorded - 53 (+/-0)
Total patients in hospital - 7 (-1) of which 2 (+1) now in intensive care and 1 on a ventilator.
World wide figures hitting new daily highs at over three hundred thousand new cases almost daily please see link below for global figures...
Since global statistics are going ballistic in some parts of the world with a resurgence in those countries who announced they had beaten the virus, best to keep an eye on things ...
Winter worries and why the authorities are fearing for the worst...
If we were not testing any people for COVID would it have been considered to have died out in the summer given the vast majority of positives are asymptomatic or barely have any symptoms?
Hospitals are no where near panic mode, so why are the authorities so concerned?
What if we were to test 500,000 people for the flu virus would we find a significant infection rate from a virus that is considered to be defeated every summer by warmer temperatures ? What about the cousin of COVID the good old common cold? It barely appears in the summer, maybe we are just asymptomatic with these viruses, a sneeze put down to an allergy or an extended hangover perhaps.
So why for countries in the southern hemisphere, now in winter, are the heath services not completely overwhelmed? The answer may be that the southern hemisphere does not have the nothern hemisphere land masses, in general temperatures are temperate and they do not replicate the severity of northern winters with the cold, damp and dark environments where the virus thrives.
Research has now confirmed that although hot and cold temperatures may not affect the severity of the virus itself, they have remarked that for every degree rise in average temperature means a drop in the death rate of 15%. They believe it is in humans where the production of mucus, the very thing that the virus attacks to get into the respiratory system, slows in warmer weather. As the temperature drops various changes take part in the mucus production that may result in the virus getting into the system with more severity. It is clear that with the current resurgence the virus is as active as ever but with a noticeably reduced severity of symptoms for those infected. The same is true for hot countries, the infection rate is high, but death/severity rate is considerably below the initial first wave that hit Europe towards the end of the winter.
This seems to follow the rationale why the flu and common cold is presumed to die out in warmer temperatures as above, but we don't test for these so are they out there with us waiting for the winter? It was suggested back in March that by the summer the COVID would have died out and without the current testing of populations may be that analysis was right?
If this is the case and the virus increases in severity as temperatures drop then instead of the virus starting from a base of 1 person as what happened last winter when it reached Europe and caused so many deaths, it may well be starting next winter from an active base of 3-4 million infected in Europe alone!!!
Let us pray that this theory is wrong but just maybe this last lockdown was just a rehearsal???
Historical events of the pandemic and how it all unfolded:-
Andorra was hit hard initially, responded impeccably, underwent unique population screening but has been squeezed between two countries whose routes out of the lockdown were never synced.