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COVID-19

Spain records one single Covid-19 death but carelessness is causing new pockets of infections

Spain’s health ministry reported one single death from the novel coronavirus on Thursday but there has been an increasing number of infections in some towns and cities resulting from people flouting the country’s social distancing rules.

Spain records one single Covid-19 death but carelessness is causing new pockets of infections
Photo: AFP

On April 26th, Spain recorded its highest one-day infection rise: 9,181 new cases.

On Thursday May 28th that figure was down to 182 over a 24-hour period.

The same encouraging comparison can be drawn when looking at the day with the highest death toll – 950 deaths on April 2nd – a grim figure which plummeted to just one fatality on Thursday.

The health ministry’s stats are proof that Spain’s lockdown and ensuing PPE and social distancing measures have worked well in a country where crowds and displays of physical affection were once the norm.

But a growing number of towns and cities are either being forced to take a step back in the lockdown phases or have come close to this as a result of a spike in infections caused by citizens not respecting the rules.

There was the case two weeks ago of a birthday party in the Catalan city of Lleida where all 20 guests (the maximum number of people legally allowed to gather was 10) resulted in everyone getting infected. Since then, 187 people in Lleida have been admitted to ICU.

A mass funeral procession through the streets of the town of Guía de Isora in Tenerife also ended up with all nine family members contracting Covid-19.

The video below shows how the safety distance of one to two metres wasn’t respected, nor was the mandatory use of face masks for such a large congregation.

 

 

Similar occurrences have been reported in Totana (Murcia), Cuenca in central Spain, in Leganés on the outskirts of Madrid and in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in northern Africa, the latter having the most worrying spike with 271 people currently placed under home quarantine.

Fortunately, the quick detection of these new outbreaks has meant that they “have been very well controlled and we should not assume that there has been any cross-community transmission,” Spanish emergencies coordinator Fernando Simón told journalists.

“We’re on the right track, even faster than other countries,” Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa added.

“But we must remain cautious as we cannot take a step back and put ourselves at risk again and prevent further progress”.

Illa stressed that according to his ministry’s findings, the chances of new major outbreaks in Spain would be in autumn, “in the worst case scenario, and without a vaccine yet.”

Spain has reported a total of 38 deaths from Covid-19 over the past seven days.

The country’s total death toll for the coronavirus stands at 27,119. 

Member comments

  1. Meanwhile on the island of Lanzarote, a man who had tested positive for the virus in Madrid but didn’t bother to wait for his test results and boarded a plane in Madrid and flew to Lanzarote, where there have been no new cases or deaths for a month. Luckily he was met off the plane by the Guardia Civil, who had been informed of the man’s covid status. All the passengers on the plane have now been put into quarantine. Just shows how easy is is for one person to undo all the good that an entire island population has done over the past 2 months. This man could have single-handedly set off a new wave of the virus in Lanzarote, which could have quickly spread to surrounding islands.

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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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