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Great news for Canary Islands as fifth wave continues to decline, but still early days

Great news for Canary Islands as fifth wave continues to decline, but still early days

For eleven days in a row the Accumulated Incidence (AI), of newly detected Covid-19 infections, during this fifth wave, has been decreasing across the archipelago. For the fourth consecutive day, the seven-day AI on the islands has fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 population: 156.9 this Friday, 165.77 this Thursday, 177.5 this Wednesday and 188.2 this Tuesday, opening the door to some real optimism for the islands once again.
Image: Drive-by PCR testing, Gran Canaria Arena

For the latest Canary Islands data on Covid-19, updated daily, check our Canary Islands dashboard

The fifth wave could well be waning, following nearly two months of rising numbers in the Canary Islands.

We are certainly not out of the woods yet though. The seven-day target to beat is 50 cases per 100,000 population, the number focused on by Health Departments and used by European Union countries as an acceptable rate for being able to class tourist destinations as low-risk.  That number is still a long way off, almost two months have passed since the archipelago as whole was last there, when on June 21 the fifth wave is recognised as having begun. Tenerife had broken that barrier two weeks earlier, and it took Gran Canaria two weeks more to break through, on July 5, when The Canary Islands 7-day AI was touching on 100 cases per 100k.

The longer range measure, 14-day AI in the Canary Islands, is down to less than 400 cases per 100,000 population (388.15), a figure not seen for nearly a month, since July 21, having now dropped by more than 100 cases per 100k population over the last 12 days, from a peak of 509.8/100k at the beginning of August.

This Friday’s Health Ministry report placed Tenerife’s 7-day AI at 185.01 cases per 100,000, the lowest seen since the beginning of July, and already far below the 324.8 cases per 100,000 detected on July 28th. The worst 7-day AI seen on that island since the start of the pandemic. 43% lower in just two weeks. There is light, once again, at the end of the tunnel for Tenerife, who have accumulated 42,200 detected infections since records began, the highest number on any of the islands, representing nearly half of all 87,571 cases reported since January 2020.

The contagion curve on Tenerife, which initially drove the 5th wave, has also appeared to be dropping faster than on Gran Canaria, over recent days, where the highest number of daily infections in the archipelago was recorded this Wednesday with 301 new infections, 68 more than on Tenerife.

This Friday, the 7-day AI on Gran Canaria was just over 174 cases per 100k, the lowest it has been for a month, since July 17 and just a nudge under the 175.5/100k reported on Tenerife.  The same story is repeated in Gran Canaria’s 14-day AI, at 422.4/100k.

Lanzarote, including La Graciosa, (69.3/100k) and Fuerteventura (125.3/100k) are dropping again too, but remain above the target of 50/100k. Both eastern islands have been relatively stable for a month now without too many fluctuations or increases, though now appear to be finally heading to where they need to be.

The three small western islands of La Palma (30/100k), El Hierro (35.9/100k) and La Gomera (23.1/100k) are all now well below the threshold, after a month of uncertainty.

With this data in hand, it is hoped the Canary Islands have again controlled their contagion curve, although there is still much to do.

The situation appears to be improving, all without curfews or lockdowns, thanks to three main factors: the increased restrictions and alert level warnings promoted by the Canary Islands’ Ministry of Health,  more than 80% of the population having received at least one dose of a vaccine, and more than 70% of over 16s having been fully inoculated, as well as the much valued positivity and responsible behaviour of most citizens.

Causes for concern

While all of the above data gives real, if still cautious, reasons for celebration, it has become clear that there are some very worrying realities that have not yet been directly reported.

We are sure this sort of thing is not limited to one island, however, but there certainly appear to be a number of individuals on the south of Gran Canaria who now believe that they do not need to follow the same protocols as the rest of us.

The 14-day AI in some of these municipalities already stands at more than 1000/100k, and that is just what we officially know is happening.  There are a lot of people who fail, too, to properly understand how the actual official numbers of residents affected is being reported. Without scientific training, most do not fully comprehend the data.

Without being alarmist, this represents a clear and present danger not only for their health, and the health of those around them, but also for the reactivation of our tourism economy, on which these southern zones of the islands most heavily depend.

This is not hearsay or conjecture.  We have had a range of direct sources inform The Canary News about small outbreaks, of which the health authorities have had no knowledge. 

People working in some entertainment venues have tested positive over recent weeks, using the less accurate and cheaper Rapid Antigen tests, and then have failed to let any of the authorities know about it, so their progress cannot be monitored and their infection, or not, cannot be officially confirmed, using the much more accurate lab analysed PCR tests. These tests are provided by the health departement, free of charge, specifically for suspected cases of Coronavirus.  PCR is the method used to know when the infection has passed and the person is on their way to recovery. Before they get the all-clear they may still be infectious.

Test and inform

PCR testing is the gold standard, and near 100% accurate.  Antigen tests can produce around 30% false negatives, and that number has been shown to rise to nearly 50% if not being administered by trained health professionals.  Those €7 self testing kits from the pharmacy, and even the €30 clinic-administered kits, are just an indicator. They are not accurate enough to properly confirm the presence of the infection, nor do they measure viral load, most often an indicator of the potential for severe Covid.  You need to be tested with PCR, administered by a trained person if you want to be sure of your situation.

There are currently sick people hiding the fact they are ill and refusing to do the right thing.  They are gambling everything, so they can avoid felling embarrassed.

While it is easy to understand why, after so many businesses have been shut for so long, no-one wants to feel responsible for others having to test or isolate, the simple fact is that these sorts of unilateral decisions, to simply keep your mouth shut and self-isolate, hampers everyone’s ability to track what is really happening. It endangers all of us. 

The potential consequence is, without exaggeration, a Covid-19 outbreak, probably Delta variant, being passed through a community without anyone being aware that it is happening, until it is simply too late to stop. Our already over-burdened health service would then have to try to help us fight the situation after the infection has already gone wild.  The danger is, they will then need to decide on much more drastic action than we have seen for a while.  

Employers have a clear responsibility to ensure that their staff do the right thing, isolate if they have had confirmed contact, inform the health service and get PCR tested, more than once.  Anything else is not just irresponsible and arrogant, it is playing with people’s lives and endangering all of us from getting back to business and safely reactivating tourism.

’nuff said.

If anyone would like to talk to us confidentially, we respect anonymity and would be very pleased to talk any of this over with you.You can call directly on 928 987 988

Timon .:.

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