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Even with the start of the 'new normality' on 21 June 2020, popular fiestas and most large gatherings and events are still prohibited and social distancing guidelines still in force. Dates listed on this site, therefore, are still subject to cancellation or change and we will update, where we can, when any new information is made available.

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Research involving Canarian scientists discovers genetic causes of severe COVID-19

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Two articles are published in the prestigious international journal Science, with the participation of professionals from the Dr. Negrín University Hospital of Gran Canaria and the Hospital de La Candelaria, in Tenerife.

More than 10 percent of patients who develop severe COVID-19, some of them young and previously healthy, have "wrong" antibodies that attack the immune system itself, and at least another 3.5% are carriers of genetic mutations that affect to the immune response. In both groups, the result is basically the same: the patients present a defect in immunity mediated by type I interferons, a group of 17 proteins crucial for the protection of our cells against viral infections.

This is one of the main conclusions of two articles published in the prestigious international journal Science, with the participation of professionals from the Hospital Universitario de Gran Canaria Dr. Negrín and the Research Unit of the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Tenerife. attached to the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands.

These findings help explain why some individuals develop an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, much more severe than others of the same age (including, for example, individuals between 20 and 30 years previously who require admission to Intensive Care Units). These findings also help to understand for the first time the molecular bases that would explain the reason why mortality is higher in men than in women.

These results are the first obtained by researchers from the international COVID Human Genetic Effort consortium, a project co-directed by Jean Laurent Casanova, from Rockefeller University in New York and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and Helen Su, from the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the USA, in which around 50 Sequencing Centers participate.

These 50 centers include the Canarian Health Service, coordinated by Carlos Rodríguez Gallego (head of the Immunology service at the Dr. Negrín University Hospital of Gran Canaria), in collaboration with Carlos Flores (Research Unit of the Hospital Nuestra Señora de Candelaria and the Technological and Renewable Energies Institute of the Tenerife Island Council) and Rebeca Pérez de Diego (La Paz University Hospital Research Institute). In addition, hundreds of researchers from many countries have participated in the collection of samples and clinical data, including the Dr. Negrín University Hospital of Gran Canaria, the Maternal-Infant-Insular Hospital Complex of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and the Health Center de Schamann and the Guanarteme Health Center, both located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

"The results obtained will probably have repercussions on the management and treatment of patients with these alterations, since they allow the identification of people at risk of suffering a serious infection and open the way to adapt treatments to patients based on the genetic or molecular defect detected, an example of personalized and precision medicine ”, explains Carlos Rodríguez-Gallego, coordinator of the Spanish Registry of Primary Immunodeficiencies.

Risk factors

Since the beginning of the pandemic it has been an enigma why the virus can cause an even asymptomatic infection in some individuals, while in others it causes a serious, even fatal, infection within a few days. It is known that age, sex and the existence of some previous pathologies or immunosuppression are risk factors for severe COVID-19. However, there are young, previously healthy individuals who develop a serious infection.

"The study of the complete exome with massive sequencing techniques has made it possible to greatly speed up the identification of the genetic causes that explain the severity of these patients, hence it is increasingly considered as a diagnostic aid in many medical fields," he explains. Carlos Flores.

In fact, "in recent years, research in the field of immunodeficiencies has shown that unusual susceptibility to certain infections is due to genetic mutations that affect the immune response", comment Carlos Rodríguez-Gallego and Rebeca Pérez de Diego . Some previous studies, carried out by Carlos Rodríguez-Gallego, collaborating with Canarian researchers and doctors, have allowed the identification of some of these innate errors of immunity in Canarian patients.

Collection of samples

In order to identify these genetic defects in patients with severe COVID-19, the consortium collected samples from patients around the world to study whether there could be any genetic basis that could explain the differences in severity produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In a first study, researchers analyzed more than 650 samples from patients hospitalized with severe pneumonia who required admission to the ICU (14% of whom had died) and samples from 530 individuals who had an asymptomatic or mild infection were also analyzed.

In this study, 13 genes that are known to be critical for defense against influenza virus and govern immunity mediated by type I interferons were analyzed in both groups of patients. Type I interferons are part of innate immunity and intrinsic, the components of the immune system that act immediately to fight and stop infection before acquired or adaptive immunity begins to develop its defense effector mechanisms, such as the production of antibodies, which take several days to develop. Type I interferons are molecules from the group of cytokines produced by various types of cells, especially cells of the immune system, within a few hours after a viral infection. Secreted interferons are recognized by receptors found in practically all cell types in our body and trigger a powerful activity against the virus.

Vulnerability to the virus

After the genetic studies carried out in the Sequencing Centers, it soon began to be seen that there were critically ill patients who had rare variants in these 13 genes and more than 3% of critically ill patients had mutations that profoundly affected some of the genes studied. Subsequent experiments showed that the immune cells of these patients did not produce type I interferons in response to SARS-CoV-2. Studies carried out at Rockefeller University also showed that human cells carrying these mutations were more vulnerable to the virus and died in greater numbers and more rapidly than cells without these mutations. Some of these patients could benefit from treatment with type I interferons, currently used in some viral infections.

At least three types of infectious diseases are known which, in addition to being caused by mutations that affect certain proteins involved in immunity against these microorganisms, can also be the consequence of the existence of antibodies produced "erroneously" (auto-antibodies) versus those proteins. The consortium also studied whether a similar scenario could occur that predisposes to infection by SARS-CoV-2.

Study of 987 patients

987 patients with severe SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia were studied and it was found that more than 10% of the patients had autoantibodies that bound and neutralized the activity of type I interferons. In some cases, these autoantibodies were found already present in patient sera obtained before the patients were infected by SARS-CoV-2; in other patients, these autoantibodies were detected in samples obtained at the beginning of the infection, before, in case of being triggered by the virus, the immune system could develop the production of these antibodies. However, these autoantibodies were not detected in 663 individuals with mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. When analyzing samples from 1,227 healthy individuals, obtained before the COVID-19 pandemic, four individuals (one in 300) had these autoantibodies.

"The data obtained indicate that these autoantibodies are the cause of the serious infection and not a consequence of the infection," explains Carlos Rodríguez-Gallego. "The fact that the majority of patients with severe COVID-19 with these autoantibodies are male (95%) indicates that their production could be related to sex," says Carlos Flores. "Patients with these autoantibodies could benefit from treatments aimed at their elimination or from treatments with type I interferons against which the patient does not have autoantibodies", explains Carlos Rodríguez-Gallego. The consortium continues to investigate other genetic variations that help identify and explain the variability in severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Santa Cruz de Tenerife announces more controls to minimize the pandemic

View over the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). / CC BY-SA

The mayor of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, José Manuel Bermúdez, has announced more controls in the streets to minimize the incidence of the coronavirus and has appealed to citizen responsibility so residents "exercise extreme precautions." 

On Friday, the Canary Islands Government activated the so-called 'red traffic light' level alert for the entire island because it has exceeded the figure of 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Tenerife and Gran Canaria face fresh restrictions from today, Saturday, for at least 15 days, La Gomera for up to 15 days, and Fuerteventura for a week.

Specifically, gatherings of more than 10 people and mass events are forbidden (scheduled public cultural activity is excepted); a closing time is 00.00 hours, with no new clients accepted from 23.00 hours, for the hotel, restaurant and terrace establishments, and in beach bars and restaurants. Non-occupational day centers will be closed.


Local Police has filed more than 500 sanctions in the last month for non-compliance with current health regulations.

"We cannot leave all the weight of control in the hands of our agents, who have been making a great effort for months to help control infections," said the mayor, adding that "as the City Council we will continue to increase control but they will be of no use all the efforts of public workers if the public is not aware of what we are at stake. "


The mayor has reported that Santa Cruz de Tenerife already has an unemployment rate of over 25% and emergency aid has doubled compared to the previous year. "It is everyone's responsibility that these figures do not continue to increase," he added, "and it is vitally important that we abide by the rules imposed and that we take extreme precautions."

Bermúdez recalled that a social and economic recovery forum will be set up for debate and proposals so that all social agents and political parties contribute to the return to socioeconomic normality in the municipality, "but that effort of dialogue and seeking consensus may be of no use if infections continue to increase in the city. "

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Finalist for Carnival Queen in 2020

Ana Benavides Castilla

In 2020 there were sixteen candidates for the title of Carnival Queen in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and, effectively, eight were eliminated and eight finalists were brought back on stage, amongst whom were the queen and her four maids of honour. This was the first time, to my knowledge, that it was done in this manner. This is one of the remaining three finalists, Ana Benavides Castilla in a costume entitled, Me siento bien (I feel good), designed by Alexis Santana Rodríguez and representing URBASER.

Carnival 2021: Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife has been postponed to the second quarter of 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The city council will choose the final date in September 2020 and in consensus with the carnival groups. Three options are currently being considered: April, May or July 2021. New dates will be listed here.

Ana Benavides Castilla | Gala Reina del Carnaval | S/C Tenerife 2020

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Traditional recipes: Rosquetes rellenos (stuffed donuts) a 19th century recipe

Rosquetes canarios (Canarian donuts)

Fried donuts filled with a boozy, nutty, syrupy mixture, what's not to like? Some effort, but should be well worth it. Those of you 'of a certain age' may be familiar with the curious old measurements that had appeared in this ancient Canarian recipe.


1 egg and 4 egg yolks
½ pound (250g) of flour
½ pound (250g) of lard
2 teaspoons of yeast
juice of 1.5 lemons
a pinch of salt
butter for spreading
2 ounces (57.4g) peeled almonds
½ pound (250g) of sugar
a glass of anise liqueur
ground cinnamon


Beat an egg (white and yolk together). Next, mix ½ pound of flour and ½ pound of lard and two teaspoons of yeast. When they are well mixed, add the beaten egg, which has previously been mixed with the water that is necessary [going to have to guess this one], the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of salt. After kneading everything very well, roll out the dough on a floured surface. When well extended, it needs to be folded into four. It is first spread well with butter. This must be done three times, letting butter rest from one layer to another, for about ten minutes.

Fry two ounces of peeled almonds then grind them. Then a syrup is made, putting on the heat half a pound of sugar with half a quart of water and stirring well (it is removed from the heat when the syrup coats the back of the spoon, hanging on it as if it were a strand). To this syrup are added the ground almonds, the juice of half a lemon, a glass of anise liqueur, a powder [pinch] of ground cinnamon, a powder [pinch] of anise, half a portion of Sherry wine and four yolks. When all the ingredients have been mixed well, put this paste on the heat until it is well cooked. It is better to wait a day to introduce this paste into the donuts (leave in a cool place).

Roll out the previously prepared dough with a rolling pin, until it is very fine. Then the dough is cut into pieces four fingers wide, put a little of the filling in the center of the dough and then roll it, like a cigar, forming the donut. The donuts are then fried in very hot oil.

  • Libra (Pound): Old weight, variable according to the provinces, in the Canary Islands it can be compared to 500 grams. Therefore, in this recipe 250 grams are mixed. flour and 250 grs. lard. The syrup is also made with 250 grams. of sugar.
  • Onza (Ounce): Weight that consists of 16 adarmes and is equivalent to 287 decigrams. Therefore, in this recipe, the filling of the donuts is made with 57.4 grs. peeled almonds.
  • Cuartillo (Quart): Measurement of liquids, a quarter of a gallon, equivalent to 504 milliliters. Therefore, in this recipe the syrup is made with ¼ liter of water.
  • Polvo (Powder): Powder is understood as that which is only taken with the fingertips of the thumb and index finger [.i.e. a pinch].

El Mercado de La Laguna con las recetas tradicionales: Rosquetes rellenos (Receta del siglo XIX)

The video below shows a more usual recipe for Rosquetes canarios (Canarian donuts), in which the unfilled donuts are fried and then bathed in sugar syrup.

Recetas de cocina fácil - Rosquetes canarios

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Frutas de otoño (Autumn fruits)

Just some of the many autumn fruits which grow in a fertile valley on the north of Tenerife

With today, Tuesday 22 September 2020, being the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere, we bring you this guide to the seasonal fruits such as figs, quinces, grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, apples, pears, kiwis and nuts (chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts), many of which will be familiar, some less so, that are available on the island.

Autumn fruits:

  • Figs: The fig is a sweet fruit that can be found during the late summer and early autumn. Due to their fragility, they are eaten fresh only during autumn, although dried figs are very typical at Christmas.
  • Quince: Quince is an autumn fruit that is consumed only after cooking. For this reason, it is used mainly to make jam, compote or the popular quince paste.
  • Grapes: The grape is a fruit rich in antioxidants that we can enjoy especially during autumn, its best time.
  • Kaki or Persimmon: Persimmon is a tropical fruit typical of autumn, being very difficult to find fresh at another time.
  • Pomegranate: is a refreshing fruit with a sweet and sour taste that is becoming increasingly popular. There are many health benefits, including its high antioxidant content and its stimulating power of sexual desire, which is why it is known as natural viagra.
  • Apple: The apple, one of the most consumed fruits in the world, has its best season in autumn. Discover the different types of apple, how to preserve them and their use in the kitchen.
  • Pears: The pear is a comm:on fruit in every home. Although you can buy pears at any time of the year, their best time is in the autumn. Pears are a good source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and vitamin E.
  • Kiwis: The kiwi is a fruit very rich in vitamin C with which it can be made canned, drinks, baked goods or eaten fresh. 
  • Berries: The blueberry is a fruit that is at its best in September. Out of season they are only frozen, packaged or dried. Raspberries are at their best from late summer through to October. The rest of the year it is only possible to buy them frozen, canned or in syrup. Blackberries ripen in late summer and early fall, although they can be easily frozen for year-round enjoyment.

Walnuts for sale in a north Tenerife supermarket


Autumn is the season for nuts, rich in antioxidants and a good source of energy. In addition, nuts stand out for their ease of preservation.

  • Chestnuts: The chestnut is a dry fruit typical of autumn and is usually associated with Christmas. Because they are easy to keep, they can be found until the end of winter.
  • Hazelnuts: Hazelnut is a dried fruit that can be found fresh in autumn, although its greatest demand occurs during the Christmas holidays.
  • Walnuts: The best season to buy walnuts is the month of November, as that is when they are ripe and dry.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Cruise ships expected to return to Tenerife at the end of October

Cruise ships in port in Santa Cruz de Tenerife Hajotthu / CC BY

Cruise ships will return to the ports of Tenerife at the end of October at 60 percent capacity, as required by health regulations, which means an average of 1,500 passengers per week.

The president and director of the Port Authority of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Carlos González and Aitor Acha, held a meeting on Friday with municipal representatives and two consignees to establish lines of collaboration for the new cruise season.

Present at the meeting were José Manuel Bermúdez, mayor of Santa Cruz de Tenerife; Evelyn Alonso, councilor for Economic Promotion; Alfonso Cabello, councilor for Festivities and Recreational Activities; Gabriel Cabrera and Guillermo Ponte, representatives of the consignees Pérez y Cía y Hamilton, and Elisa Zamora, commercial manager of the Port Authority. Juan José Cabrera and Adasath Reyes, councilors of Santa Cruz de La Palma and San Sebastián de La Gomera, respectively, were present via virtual links.

At the beginning of the meeting, both González and Acha presented the current situation that the new cruise season is expected to face, where the Merchant Marine must receive a report from the Canarian Ministry of Health that guarantees the viability of the routes of cruise ships. Once issued and the approval of the Ministry is obtained, 45 days will elapse for it to begin, so it is estimated that the start date will be at the end of October.

Currently, it is hoped to start with the TUI company ships, which it will do so at 60 percent capacity, attracting about 1,500 weekly passengers.

The main doubts on the part of the municipalities have been directed to security. The consignees have discussed the tests carried out with cruises in Greece, so it is likely that cruise passengers will be prevented from leaving the ships autonomously, proposing excursions and 'bubble activities' only. José Manuel Bermúdez has offered public spaces to develop proposals for visitors, "due to the importance of the presence of cruise passengers in our city for the capital's business fabric."

The Health Department has emphasized that there must be no infections, so a protocol has been developed, for which Puertos de Tenerife has requested collaboration, to provide residences to house any possible infected person. Bermúdez, Cabrera and Adasath have promised after the meeting to collaborate with the port authority to locate spaces that could be used for this purpose. Everything indicates that, although with restrictions, the cruise season is going to resume in the Canary Islands after the health crisis, with bases in Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

[ED: Can't help thinking that there is a lot of wishful thinking here.]

Sunday, September 20, 2020

La Laguna to remember the victims of the Los Rodeos plane crash in the San Juan cemetery

Cementerio de San Juan Bautista, La Laguna Mataparda / CC BY

The City Council will place a monolith and a plaque in the place where those people who died in the worst accident in the history of aviation rest and who could not be identified.

The Department of Cemeteries of the City Council of La Laguna, led by Cristina Ledesma, has started the process to place a monolith and a plaque in the Cementerio de San Juan Bautista in tribute to the 583 people who lost their lives in the largest plane crash in history, which occurred 43 years ago at the Los Rodeos airport. These recognitions will be located in the place where the remains of many of the victims are located, who also have a sculpture in their memory in the municipality on the Mesa Mota mountain.

“It is an act of justice to preserve the memory of the victims of that accident who were buried in a grave in the San Juan cemetery, without being able to be identified, with the future monument and the plaque, but also by sprucing up the plot where these remains can be found”. "All of them are part of history for this terrible event and we want to carry out this initiative out of respect for them and their families, who lost their loved ones without having the opportunity to say goodbye in an appropriate way," she adds.

The event took place on March 27, 1977 and was caused by the collision between two Boeing 747 aircraft. The accident has the highest number of fatalities in aviation history, with 583 passengers losing their lives and just 61 surviving.

La Laguna recordará a las víctimas del accidente aéreo de Los Rodeos en el cementerio de San Juan (Via)

Cementerio de San Juan La Laguna Tenerife

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Güímar Hillclimb 2020 Suspended

Another event on the Rally Calendar, the Güímar Hillclimb, that was to have taken place this weekend, has now been suspended.

In a statement, organisers said that, given the current health situation, as well as the requirements imposed by the Government of the Canary Islands in terms of the prevention of contagion of COVID-19, they have made the decision to SUSPEND the 47th Ascent to the Mirador de Güímar - Tenerife Island. 

The event had already been postponed from July and, additionally, their efforts were truncated by not being able to find the necessary financial support to be able to celebrate with all the demands that are required today. 

We can merely bring you a little snippet of the action from last year.


Friday, September 18, 2020

The City of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is left without its "usual" Carnival in 2021 after eliminating dances and contests

Carnival Parade in Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2019

The Councillor of Fiestas indicates that only the election of the Carnival Queen and group exhibitions would be held, which will last throughout the year for tourism

Santa Cruz de Tenerife will be without Carnival "as we know it" in 2021. It will not have dances at night in the streets, nor Daytime Carnivals, nor the fair, nor contests. Although it's expected that there will be a gala for the election of the carnival queen, it would be the only contest that would take place and this would be outdoors. The program would be completed with some group exhibitions. This "Carnival experience" will last approximately a week.

Faced with the uncertainty caused by the Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic, councilor Alfonso Cabello affirmed that next year, Santa Cruz will not be able to enjoy its Carnival "as usual, unless the situation changes a lot and we have a vaccine." "Hopefully I can see our Carnival again in this mandate as it has always been," he added.

Regarding the dates, he also clarified that it is not yet completely decided if this "Carnival experience" will take place in April or July, although the Councilor anticipates that it will be held after Easter. "Companies in the events sector prefer April and Carnival groups, July. The final decision will be made between September and October," he said.

What is clear, he added, is that "it will not be a traditional Carnival, because, in principle, there will be no dances in the street, neither night or day; no mass performances; no fair; nor contests." "We have to think that it will be a different party, that it will last approximately a week and in which there will be no crowds. Our intention is that the Queen can be chosen and that there will be a stellar performance at the gala. The rest of the program will be formed of exhibitions led by the groups," he said.

Responding to a request by Ashotel (Hotel Association of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro), these exhibitions will continue throughout the year for tourists so that carnival may generate revenue during the 365 days of the year. "We will create a brand so that this lasts beyond a week. The economic amounts that we give to the carnival groups (murgas, comparsas, groups and rondallas) correspond to the performances they carry out. As in 2021 there will not be contests, we can take advantage of exhibitions, for example for cruise passengers when they arrive at the port, throughout the year," explained Cabello.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife se quedará sin su Carnaval "de siempre" al eliminar bailes y concursos

[NB: Parades are not mentioned, but if there are to be no crowds, then we should probably assume that there will also not be any of the parades in the streets next year either.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Concern in the Canary Islands about the five hurricanes moving across the Atlantic

Five hurricanes (stock image)

The hurricanes that are currently active - the 5 tropical cyclones in the Atlantic at the same time for only the second time in history - will not affect the archipelago, but AEMET does not rule out the arrival of a cyclonic episode before the end of October.

The delegate of the State Meteorological Agency in the Canary Islands, Jesús Agüera, has made an assurance that the hurricanes that have formed in recent days in the Atlantic will not reach the archipelago, although the agency has not ruled out that, before the end of the season, the islands may be affected by any of these phenomena.

Preocupación en Canarias por los cinco huracanes que se desplazan por el Atlántico

[ED: Could 2020 get any worse? No, DON'T answer that!]


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