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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 11 August 2020
11 August 2020 @ 11:05

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.  

- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*  

Living La Vida Loca 

  • There was a 2nd firework display at midnight last night, 2 days after the last one. I lose track of why.
  • So what's caused this? Spain has been plunged back into a coronavirus crisis as the soaring number of cases confirmed it to be the worst affected European country. The 'good news' is that deaths remain low. And maybe that: The WHO has said it did not expect the government to reimpose a total lockdown. Rather, it would try to contain the virus with localised restrictions.
  • As for an answer to my question . . . Below is an article by the Times' correspondent in Spain on possible causes of this reversal and its implications. One of which is preventing my younger daughter and her kids coming here next week, because of the need to self-isolate on their return just as schools are (possibly) reopening.
  • A case in point . . . Totana, a town of 35,000 inhabitants in Murcia, is back in lockdown after a party in a bar led to 55 people testing positive. 
  • Putting it bluntly . . . Do the  Spanish have anyone to blame but themselves?

The Way of the World

  • Are you 'she/her', 'he/him' or 'they/them'? Do you know? Do you care? You  might soon have to, the way things are going. At many universities, students are given pronoun badges when they arrive on campus. They may be expected to state their preferred pronouns in seminars. At conferences, too, attendees might be offered pronoun-identifying badges. Some corporations, such as the BBC and local authorities, ask staff to include pronouns in their email signatures. This, it's said, is to please - or, rather, avoid displeasing - transgender folk who represent a tiny fraction of the total population. The critical view is that: Pronoun-declaring is pure narcissism and a game played by an identity-obsessed minority with far too much time on its hands. Forced attempts at normalising pronoun introductions may be done in the name of inclusivity but they reveal only how hopelessly out of touch those who run our universities, local authorities and political parties have become. They no longer have any idea how normal people talk to each other. But there will be a spectrum of views, of course. As we don’t have a war to worry about. Only a plague.


  • Three more refranes:-

- There are plenty more fish in the sea: Hay mucho más donde elegir.

- There’s always a catch: No hay miel sin hiel.

There’s honour among thieves: Entre bueyes no hay cornadas. 

Finally . . . 

  • A single collared-dove was seen to join my resident robin yesterday but neither its lifetime partner not the sparrows have put in an appearance. Despite there being food in abundance. They  must be very happy somewhere else. Or dead.


Spain blames the coronavirus surge on work, travel and parties: Isambard Wilkinson  

Concern is mounting over Spain’s failure to stem a spread of infection that has brought the daily total to the highest level since May, when the country was in lockdown.

Health ministry figures showed yesterday that 1,229 new infections had been registered in 24 hours, the most since May 1. The World Health Organisation, which uses a different measure, put the figure at 905. Salvador Illa, the health minister, said that there were more than 400 outbreaks nationwide and almost 5,000 cases.

Most are in Catalonia and Aragon, although numbers in Madrid are growing. The outbreaks tended to be connected to family gatherings, parties and nightlife and the movement of temporary workers, Mr Illa said. Making matters worse, many Spaniards are about to head to the coast as temperatures soar above 42C.

The rise has punished the tourism industry. On Saturday Britain announced a 14-day quarantine on travellers returning from Spain. Norway has done the same. France and Germany have advised against travel to Catalonia.

Mr Illa insisted the situation was different from the crisis in March and April, when the daily death toll was approaching 1,000 and hospitals were on the verge of collapse. More cases were being detected this time, and most were asymptomatic, he said. The average age of those testing positive has dropped from 60 to around 40.

In the past week 10 people have died and 25 have been admitted to intensive care. On May 1 there had been 281 deaths in 24 hours, with 732 people admitted to hospital, of whom 84 needed intensive care.

The Balearic Islands, including holiday hotspots such as Ibiza and Mallorca, had only one new case, while the Canary Islands had seven. “We don’t have to be afraid of the virus, but we have to be careful,” Mr Illa said.

On Wednesday the Catalan authorities eased the lockdown in and around Lleida, the northeastern city where 160,000 people had been ordered to stay at home after a sharp rise in infections. The regional government, which issued a stay-at-home order to nearly four million residents in the Barcelona area, has said that the surge is easing.

Measures have already been introduced to prevent a second wave. Mask-wearing is compulsory in indoor and outdoor public spaces in almost the whole country. Appointments must be made to visit some beaches, and areas for sunbeds are demarcated to ensure social distancing. On some coasts drones monitor crowding.

Mr Illa said Spain’s regions — which run their own coronavirus response strategies — were averaging 42,000 PCR tests a day. Some regions are fining anyone who has tested positive and breaks quarantine arrangements, which run for at least ten days. Their contacts may also be fined. In Murcia those penalties are up to €60,000. The region has also introduced fines of €100 for failing to wear a mask and €600,000 for organising illegal parties of more than 100 people.

Contact tracers told El Diario, a news website, the flouting of quarantine restrictions had worsened in recent weeks as people returned to work or went on holiday. The increasing number of young people affected had led to more rule-breaking, they said. Concern is mounting that there are not enough contact tracers to control the spread of the virus, particularly as people move around the country during the holiday season. This month the College of Physiotherapists in Catalonia offered the services of its 12,000 members to help boost the contact tracing effort in the region. It was the tracing of cases from Catalonia that led to the discovery of the first infection on the tiny Canary Island of La Graciosa. The Ministry of Defence has said it is developing a contact tracing strategy to prevent outbreaks in the armed forces and would offer those services to civilian authorities if needed.

Almost 127,000 people have been admitted to hospital in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic, and the death toll stands at 28,441, as calculated by the World Health Organisation.

But many who have contracted the virus may not have been included in the health ministry’s figures, particularly at the start of the crisis. An estimate by El País put the death toll nearer 45,000, based on excess mortality and data from the various regions.

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, Spain has the second-highest number of excess deaths. England has the highest.


* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.

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