A work lunch held by staff from the Hospital Regional in Málaga ended up becoming a huge superspreader event when 68 of the 173 health professionals from the intensive care unit (ICU) team were infected by Covid-19.
Experts pointed to the event as an example of the risks that lie ahead during this festive season, and called for people to be cautious and avoid meeting in large groups of people.
All of those infected in Málaga had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, but the event has resulted in the participants having to go into quarantine, thus putting more pressure on healthcare services.
It’s a reminder that, despite high vaccination rates, Covid-19 is still circulating in Spain and social distancing measures are still important when it comes to reducing the spread of the virus.
Cases continue to rise day by day, and the Omicron variant is worrying scientists. So far 13 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Spain. The variant is thought to be less dangerous than Delta but more transmissible.
An average of 7,005 cases per day were reported in Spain in the last week, a much lower number than in neighbouring France, where the average is of 41,463 cases per day.
Spanish health authorities have called for people to limit the number of participants taking part in social gatherings over Christmas especially, although this remains a recommendation and no number has been given.
However for now, Spain’s Health Ministry has no plans to impose drastic measures and leaving it up to each region – which have their own healthcare systems and vaccination programmes – to impose their own restrictions.
Government spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez said in a press conference last week that “what matters is vaccination”, seeing vaccines and facemasks as the “tools for success” against the virus.
“After 15 months fighting the virus we’ve learnt how to deal with it without having to stop the economy in its tracks,” she said.
Health minister Carolina Darias called on people to get vaccinated and insisted that masks should be used outdoors when social distancing is not possible, particularly this time of year when people are gathering in large crowds on the street.