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‘Stay at home’: How to self-isolate in Spain and what to do if you have symptoms

Spain has seen the number of infections spiral since the start of the week,becoming one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, overtaking France with the highest number of cases.

‘Stay at home’: How to self-isolate in Spain and what to do if you have symptoms
Avoid socializing and stay at home is the advice from health officials in Spain. Photo: AFP

The speed of contagion appears to have surpassed that of Italy a week ago.

But apart from four towns in Catalonia authorities have so far ruled out an official lockdown even in Madrid which counts around half of the cases across Spain.

However, Madrid authorities have taken new steps to limit contagion and are urging residents to stay at home and “self-isolate” and if they show symptoms of the coronavirus then to put themselves in quarantine.


Ignacio Aguado, vice president of the Community of Madrid said: “We need people to stay at home, and if they don't do it voluntarily, we will have to bring in forcible measures to see that they do.”

In an interview with TVE on Friday he warned: “This is a silent hurricane. We need people to be aware. We are going to have two or three very difficult weeks.”

He insisted that the hospitals were now at breaking point. “The health system is at its limit. People need to people stay at home, not just in Madrid but throughout Spain.

“The virus is incubating. The real problem is that as the infected population grows, critical cases grow and will lead to the collapse of the health system.

“It is important that the elderly stay at home but also the young, because they can infect others in whom it can be lethal. All of society must be aware of the seriousness of the problem.”

His warnings came as Madrid mulled measures to force the closure of restaurants and bars.

Authorities have already shut down schools, universities and elderly day care centres and closed sports facilities and cultural centres.

Madrid has borne the brunt of the crisis, clocking up more than 2,000 infections and 40 deaths by Friday morning.

Residents have been told not to travel to other parts in Spain but without official controls, many have already done so, including students who have returned to their home towns after university classes were suspended.

Reports that families were decamping to second homes or renting ‘casa rurals’ to escape the city have also caused fears that the virus will be spread further rather than contained.

“To beat the virus as quickly as possible, responsibility and socialdiscipline is essential. This requires big changes in our habits,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in a televised address on Thursday evening. He will conduct all future meetings by video conference.

The hospitals are so overwhelmed with new cases of coronavirus that many have reported being unable to speak to medical professionals, even if they are showing symptoms of having the covid-19.

The current advice for those who display mild symptoms including a cough, fever or shortness of breath is to quarantine at home.


  • Isolate a suspected coronavirus patient in their own room with exclusive access to a bathroom If that is not possible then maintain at least two metres from the patient at all times
  • The room should be well-ventilated with an open window to the outside, but avoid air currents to the rest of the house.
  • Keep the door shut on them to avoid contagion with those living in the rest of the house.
  • Make a flip top bin available for them (lined with a bag) so they can dispose of their own waste tissues.


  • Make sure they have a phone line to communicate directly with medical staff in case the symptoms worsen.
  • To minimise contact with the rest of the household, use a monitor (such as in use for young children) or communicate by mobile phone.


  • If possible limit the patient’s movement in the rest of the house to avoid contagion with others living there.
  • If that isn’t possible then make sure they use a face mask and wash their hands frequently
  • Pay special attention to clean everything handled by the patient and disinfect it after they have touched it
  • Avoid other people coming to the house

Keep clean

  • Wash hands properly after every interaction with the patient.
  • Everyone in the household should wash hands after coughing, sneezing, using a tissue, and before eating and after wiping down surfaces.
  • Keep a set of utensils, cup, glass, plates etc, only for use by the contagious person
  • If you have to share a bathroom with a contagious person make sure it is cleaned with bleach and wiped down thoroughly after they have used it and keep their own towels etc in a separate place from your own.
  • Clothes worn by contagious people should be kept in a sealed bag after use and then washed separately at a temperature of between 60-90C

People have reported difficulties in contacting medical authorities to report their symptoms and request coronavirus testing and it now seems likely that only those with more than mild symptoms will be advised to do so.

Those with severe symptoms should attempt to seek medical treatment by calling the regional coronavirus hotline (listed by region in the tweet below) or if emergency treatment is sought then the 112 emergency number.

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Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.