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COVID-19

Spain’s coronavirus fatalities officially tops 15,000 as daily deaths drop

Spain's daily death toll from the coronavirus fell to 683 on Thursday, after rising for two days, the authorities said.

Spain's coronavirus fatalities officially tops 15,000 as daily deaths drop
Photo: AFP

The country, one of the worst hit by the pandemic, has now recorded 15,238 deaths from COVID-19. The daily toll was down from 757 on Wednesday.

The number of new infections in Spain grew by 5,756 cases to 152,446 on Thursday, up from 146,690 on Wednesday it added.

The number of daily deaths dropped to 683 within 24 hours after two days on the rise. A week ago Spain recorded 950 deaths, the highest daily toll so far, which was then followed by falling numbers for four straight days.

The stats show that 52,165 people have now made a full recovery, which is 4,144 more than yesterday.


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 flattening. Data: Ministry of Health.

 

Of the official figures announced, 43,877 confirmed cases are known to be in the Madrid region, where 5,800 have died, around a third of all the deaths nationwide (15,238).

But it has emerged that the true number of fatalities from covid-19 in Spain could be far higher, after health authorities admitted that only those who died after testing positive to coronavirus where included in the official death toll. 

Many regional civil registries have warned that the number of death certificates issued, especially for those who died in elderly residential homes far surpasses the official death toll.

Authorities in the Madrid region acknowledged on Wednesday that the number of deaths in retirement homes could be five times as high as that announced by health officials, who have not included almost 3,500 deaths of people who had not been tested for the virus.

 

 

READ MORE:  Why Spain's true number of coronavirus deaths may be much higher than official figures


Coffins lined up at a morgue near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

For several days, the Spanish authorities have indicated that the peak of the pandemic has been reached but asked citizens to continue to strictly respect the confinement regulations.

“The fire started by the pandemic is starting to come under control,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament Thursday.   

“Our priority now is not to turn back, especially not to return to our starting point, not to lower our guard.”

Spain has been subject to a strict lockdown since March 14 which has been reinforced in the past two weeks by the cessation of all non-essential activities until the Easter weekend.

The lower house of parliament was expected later Thursday to extend the confinement to April 25th.

The government has not ruled out further extensions, while stressing that the measures should be eased gradually.

“Within two weeks. I'm convinced I will have to extend the state of the alert again because the pandemic will not be over,” Sanchez warned.   

Debate in the parliament saw the opposition attack the government over its handling of the crisis.

“Spain is the country that has the most people dead per million of population,” Popular Party leader Pablo Casado said.   

“Are you not going to ask for forgiveness?” he asked Sanchez.    

The confinement measures have led to the cancellation of all Easter processions in this Catholic country of nearly 47 million people.   

However police said Thursday nine people had been arrested after filming themselves on a fake procession at Merida in the southwest.

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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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