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HEALTH

LATEST: Spain records new one-day record for coronavirus fatalities with 769 more deaths in 24 hours

The death toll in Spain soared over 4,800 Friday after 769 people died in 24 hours, in what was a record one-day figure for fatalities.

LATEST: Spain records new one-day record for coronavirus fatalities with 769 more deaths in 24 hours
Photo: AFP

Health ministry figures showed the number of deaths reaching 4,858, while cases jumped to 64,059, although the rate of new infections appeared to be slowing, registering a 14 percent increase compared with 18 percent a day earlier.

Spain has the world's second-highest death toll after Italy, and has so far suffered 4,858 deaths, while the number of cases jumped to 64,059.    

Although the figures showed a daily increase of nearly 8,000 new infections, the uptick comes as Spain moves to dramatically increase its rate of testing, ordering millions of new kits from around the world.

READ MORE:

Despite the increase, the rate of new infections appears to be slowing, registering a 14 percent increase compared with 18 percent on Thursday.   

Fernando Simon, the health ministry's emergencies coordinator described the figure as “promising” saying it showed that the flattening trend of the curve”was ongoing”.

“There is a clear stabilisation,” he said, with the figures indicating “that, little-by-little, we're reaching the peak”.

The surge in numbers has brought the medical system to the brink of collapse, with Spain inking a major supply deal with China to source equipment and material to increase its capacity for testing, treatment and the
protection of frontline workers.   

It has also seen a growing number of cases among healthcare personnel with 9,444 infected, Simon said, giving a figure which has nearly doubled since Tuesday when it stood at 5,400.

The latest figures and the breakdown per region:

 

Despite the positive indications in the overall numbers, Simon warned there would be no immediate easing of the situation within the heath care system, which could even get worse in the coming days.

“This pressure on the care system will continue and could even increase in the coming three, four or five days,” he said.   

What was important, he said, was to focus on the trend within the figures, rather than the headline numbers of death and infections.    

There have also been cases detected among the thousands of troops and police drafted in to help fight the virus, with officials saying 172 soldiers and 282 members of the Guardia Civil police had tested positive.

Until Thursday night, Italy had registered the largest number of declared cases until it was overtaken by the United States, where 85,991 people have now tested positive for the virus.

Spain implemented a stringent nationwide lockdown on March 14th which will not be lifted until at least April 11th, with the latest figures raising hope that the measures to curb the virus were beginning to take effect.

 

 

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COVID-19

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.

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