Spanish study finds Covid transmission rate between children and family members ‘very low’

A new study has found that only 8 percent of children with coronavirus had transmitted it to a family member.

Spanish study finds Covid transmission rate between children and family members 'very low'

A new study by Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona has found that only 8 percent of children who were patients there and had confirmed coronavirus, had transmitted the virus to a family member, reports El País.

This could explain why the infection rates in schools has not increased significantly since they reopened in September.

The study included 1,081 paediatric patients with a positive PCR test and 3,515 family members that were diagnosed with the coronavirus, and was carried out between July 1st and October 31st.

The first results of the study were from the period of March 1st to May 31st, during the strict Spanish lockdown when schools were closed and most people were confined to their homes. During this time, researchers found that only 3.4 percent of child patients had transmitted Covid-19 to a member of their family.

The later data covers the summer period and the first seven weeks after the schools reopened, when children had a lot more contact with each other. In this part of the study, in 783 of the cases (72.4 percent), another member of the family caught the virus first before the child. It was only in 86 cases (8 percent) however that the child had passed it onto one of their family members.

In only 5percent of these cases did the child catch the virus from another child in the family, meaning that transmission between children is considered low.

Pere Soler, head of the paediatric unit of infectious and immunodeficient diseases at Vall d’Hebron hospital told El País: “The later study confirms that children transmit the virus less than adults do in the household, than the first part of the study had indicated. Now we can see that the free movement of children and the return to school has not led to a greater transmission of the virus”.

The study also interestingly found that 47 percent of the children who tested positive for Covid-19 (506) were asymptomatic.

Magda Campins, the head of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Vall d’Hebron hospital told El País: “The impact of Covid-19 on children in Catalonia continued to be very minor after the confinement period, with children freely moving about. In more than 70 percent of cases, the infection has been spread by an adult”.

The number of PRC tests being carried out within schools across the country has increased dramatically in last few months. During the first eight weeks since schools in Spain reopened, 287,046 PCR tests were carried out on children.


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CONFIRMED: 25 percent of school lessons in Catalonia must be taught in Spanish

At least 25 percent of classes will have to be taught in Spanish in schools in Catalonia, following the latest ruling by the region's Supreme Court which quashes regional government appeals to stick to the full-Catalan language model.

Schools in Catalonia must have 25% of classes in Spanish
Supreme Court rules that 25 percent of classes in Catalonia must be taught in Spanish. Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

The divisive matter of Catalan vs Spanish for official matters in Catalonia is making headlines again, this time with regard to education.

Catalonia’s Supreme Court on Monday rejected the appeal from the Catalan Generalitat against an earlier ruling that required a quarter of lessons to be taught in castellano (Spanish) in schools in the northeastern region.

This means that the decision by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) becomes final and puts an end to the linguistic immersion model that all classes apart from Spanish class and other languages such as English, be taught in Catalan.

The Minister of Education of the Catalan Generalitat government Josep González-Cambray appeared on Tuesday afternoon together with the Minister of Culture Natalia Garriga to report on the court’s decision, which he has defined as a “new frontal attack by the judges on the educational system in Catalonia”.

González-Cambray also sent a message to Catalan schools, assuring them that despite the new situation, there will be “no change” in the current system. “The centres must continue working as before and do not have to make any changes,” he said.

The minister has pointed out that the fact that “it is a judge who arbitrarily determines the percentage of hours that are necessary to learn a language is an anomaly and a contempt for education professionals”.

“School in Catalonia will be in Catalan,” he said at the end of his message to the schools.

The first ruling on this issue was back in 2014  

The Catalan model of linguistic immersion has been questioned by the Justice for years and in 2014, the TSJC already established that the Department of Education should ensure a minimum of 25 percent of classes in Spanish.

At that time, the ruling referred to just eight students but stated that this was the rule to be followed when a student requests classes in Spanish.

The 2014 ruling was the first to set this percentage after several courts urged the Government of Catalonia to teach more classes in Spanish, although without specifying the percentage.

Later, in December 2020 the TSJC issued another ruling that obliged the entire Catalan educational system to teach 25 percent of its classes in Spanish, a ruling which the Catalan government appealed and now the Supreme Court has rejected.

How many students requested to be taught in Spanish?

According to the Catalan Minister of Education, there have “only been 80” families who have requested classes in Spanish since 2005 and he has denied that there is a linguistic conflict in Catalan schools.

This is despite the fact that only 14 percent of secondary school students and 35 percent of primary school students speak Catalan in the playground, according to data from the Llengua Platform. 

Even though families may not have formally requested it, in the capital of Barcelona, where 25 percent of the population of Catalonia live, the University of Barcelona, says that 98 percent of those speak Spanish and only around 50-60 percent speak Catalan.

The reaction from the Catalan government and pro-Catalan associations 

The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, has described the Supreme Court’s decision as a “very serious attack” and a “lack of respect for teachers”. “Catalan should not be touched be touched in schools. The immersion model that we have is a guarantee of social cohesion and equal opportunities in the country,” he added.

Aragonès assured schools that he will find “all possible ways” to overcome the situation and that he sees it as “fundamental” to increase the use of Catalan in schools further.  

The Òmnium Cultural Catalan association has asked that disobedience not be ruled out to defend linguistic immersion after the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Catalan Civil Society, on the other hand, celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision, which they have defined as “a historic triumph for equal opportunities in the face of a reactionary model.”

The reaction from the Spanish government

The Spanish government believes that the judgment of the TSJC “must be carried out” like all sentences, “because it has been ruled upon”, but it will not expressly request this to happen because it believes that the TSJC itself should request compliance.

The Ministry of Education and the Ministers of Justice and Territorial Policy, Pilar Llop and Isabel Rodríguez said on Wednesday that once the ruling is final, they maintain, it is up to the sentencing court to see it through and not the government.

Around 8 million people are reported to speak Catalan, one of Spain’s six official languages.