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COVID-19

What’s the latest on Spain’s Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospital patient numbers?

Spain’s Health Ministry added 368 fatalities to its coronavirus death toll in the sharpest daily increase for the pandemic’s second wave, data showed on Thursday.

What's the latest on Spain's Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospital patient numbers?
Photo: AFP

And the number of people who died from Covid-19 topped 1,000 over the last week, up from a weekly figure of 366 in the first week of October.

The rise to an official total of 38,486 deaths comes a day after the government introduced a new methodology for reporting cases and deaths and added 1,326 fatalities to the official tally.

The number of new cases diagnosed within the previous day climbed by 21,908 bringing Spain’s total of known coronavirus cases since the pandemic began to 1,306,316 cases, according to the latest data release, after the Health Ministry removed double entries and added some cases that were not initially diagnosed as COVID-19.

 

But the data did seem to show that the infection rate across Spain was stabilizing.

Spain’s average 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants dropped from 528.75 to 527.30 within 24 hours, a very small decrease but enough to suggest that strict new measures introduced across the different regions is starting to prove effective.

Fernando Simón, Spain’s emergency health chief said “care must be taken when interpreting the data” but said it represented a “certain stabilization,” and that a trend could only be established after evaluating such data over a week.

On Wednesday Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference it would take two to three weeks for the latest regional restrictions to produce effect, but added that “there is still margin to take additional measures, and there are a great many steps we can still take.”

However hospitilizations and deaths are expected to rise over the next few weeks in the aftermath of the surge in recent outbreaks over the past month.

According to Thursday’s report, across Spain there is an average of 16.35 percent of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients, a figure that soars to 29.2 percent of patients being treated in Intensive Care Units across Spain.

A total of 20,281 people are currently admitted for treatment, compared to 10,949 a month ago, with 2,802 patients currently in ICU beds across Spain.

The regional breakdown of hospital occupancy can be seen in the following chart;

The positivity rate – the figure that shows the proportion of coronavirus tests that come back positive – is remaining stable at an average of 13.3 percent across the country compared to 13.7 percent a week earlier.

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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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