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COVID-19

Spain records lowest daily coronavirus death toll in more than a month

Spain recorded 367 people deaths from novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily number of fatalities in four weeks, the government said on Friday.

Spain records lowest daily coronavirus death toll in more than a month
A healthcare worker offers a book and a rose to a cured coronavirus patient as she is discharged from the field hospital in Barcelona. Photo: AFP

It is the smallest number of new coronavirus deaths since March 22nd when 394 deaths were recorded.

The number brought the country's total deaths to 22,524, the third-highest number in the world after the United States and Italy.   

More people were diagnosed as recovered than as infected over 24 hours for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the health ministry's emergencies coordinator Fernando Simón told a news conference.


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.

There were 2,796 new infections confirmed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, or swab tests, over the past 24 hours, while 3,105 people overcame the infection, he said.

“We can say there is some good news,” Simón added.   

But the total number of new cases was up by 6,740 in the last 24 hours when those detected by antibody tests were included, bringing the overall number of infections to 219,764 from 213,024 the day before.

Spain has been ramping up the use of antibody tests which show whether a patient's immune system has developed defences against the coronavirus, meaning they have been infected in the past.


The graph shows the total number of confirmed cases across Spain.  Data: Ministry of Health.

Spanish health officials believe the epidemic peaked on April 2nd when 950 people died over 24 hours, nearly three weeks after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown that effectively confined almost 47 million citizens to home to slow the spread of the virus.   

Parliament on Wednesday authorised the government to extend the state of emergency for two more weeks until May 9.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez signalled that the government could begin to ease its restrictions — some of the tightest in Europe — during the second half of May, but warned that “de-escalation will be slow”.

He has said the government may phase out restrictions by sectors and geographical areas, letting less-affected areas return to normal life first.   

A first step to ease confinement will be taken at the weekend, when children will be allowed out for walks accompanied by an adult.

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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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