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COVID-19

Spain’s coronavirus death toll tops 10,000 after new daily record for fatalities

The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged over 10,000 on Thursday after a record 950 deaths in 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases passing the 110,000 mark, the government said.

Spain's coronavirus death toll tops 10,000 after new daily record for fatalities
Photo: AFP

Spain has the world's second-highest death toll after Italy, with the virus so far claiming 10,003 lives although the rate of new infections and deaths continued its downward trend, the health ministry figures showed.

Spain set yet another grim record as the daily body count from coronavirus was confirmed as 950 on Thursday bringing the total of fatalities across the nation to just over 10,000.

The number of deaths within a 24 hour period exceeded 800 for the sixth day in a row, according to official data from Spain’s Health Ministry.

On Wednesday morning  a total of 8,102 infections were confirmed, taking the total to 110,238.

A total of 54,113 people in Spain have been hospitalized, the data showed, while 26,743 have recovered and been discharged from hospital since the coronavirus outbreak began.

 

 

Despite the continued rise in the number of deaths, health officials believe the figures show a “trend change” that is positive.

The overall number of hospitalizations (blue), admittance into ICU (yellow) deaths (red) and recoveries (green) are shown in the chart below, which reveals that the curve of the number of hospital admittances is becoming less steep:

 

Most importantly, the number of people in hospital and those intensive care was falling, suggesting the epidemic had reached its peak, said Fernando Simón, head of the health ministry's emergency coordination unit on Wednesday.

“This is important,” said Simón, who himself was diagnosed with the virus this week.

The number of new infections increased by 7.9 percent, compared with 8.2 percent on Wednesday and more than 25 percent at the start of last week.   

The daily rise in deaths also slowed to 10.5 percent on Thursday, virtually unchanged from 10.6 percent on Wednesday and down from 27 percent a week ago.    

“The data show the curve has stabilised” and the epidemic has entered a “slowdown” phase, Health Minister Salvador Illa said.   

Officials have warned that even if the epidemic is peaking, the pressure on the intensive care system would be subject to a lag of a week or longer, with hospitals likely to reach crisis point by the end of this week or early next.

Madrid remains the worst-hit region, with 4,175 deaths and more than 32,000 cases, leaving hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed.

Officials said the figures gave a “very positive” indication that the unprecedented lockdown put in place on March 14th, confining Spain's population of nearly 47 million to their homes, was working.

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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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