Spain’s coronavirus cases soar by 20,000 over weekend

The latest data released by Spain’s Ministry of Health revealed that the figure for those who had tested positive to the virus had risen by 20,000 cases since Friday.

Spain's coronavirus cases soar by 20,000 over weekend
Photo: AFP

The new data published on Monday afternoon brings the total of those who have tested positive to coronavirus since the start of the pandemic to 405,436 across Spain.

In the last 24 hours alone, some 2,060 new infections have been detected, with 413 in the Basque Country and 409 in Madrid.

The total in the last 24 hours for other regions was reported as 292 in Andalusia, 216 in Aragon, 150 in Galicia, 115 in the Canary Islands, 95 in Navarra, 84 in Catalonia, 78 in La Rioja, 42 in Extremadura, 38 in Castilla La Mancha, 37 in Cantabria, 33 in Castilla y Leon, 25 in Melilla, 19 in Asturias, 6 in the Balearic isles, 5 in Murcia, 2 in Valencia and just one in Ceuta.

But the data shows the rising trend with 78,148 new positive cases over the last fortnight representing an accumulated incidence over the last 14 days of 166.18 per 100,000 people.

The data also reveals that 498 people have been hospitalized with Covid-19 since Friday with 38 in intensive care units.  The Health Ministry reported that the death toll had risen by 34 since Friday bringing the official total to 28,872 – although that only includes the deceased who tested positive to tests before they died.

Earlier in the day, several regions across Spain announced new measures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Catalan premier Quim Torra announced a new limit on social gatherings with no more than 10 people allowed to meet socially at a time.

In Murcia, the regional government went even further and capped the figure at six people per gathering.

Meanwhile, authorities in Madrid, which is at the epicentre of the latest surge rejected introducing a formal limit on gatherings but did urge people to “avoid unnecessary social interaction”.

However, the regional government has shut down bars and restaurants for a period of 14 days in the municipality of Tielmes after an outbreak in which 45 people have so far tested positive and advised its 2,700 residents to “stay at home”.


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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.