Spanish PM Sánchez calls for new measures amid ‘real risk’ of rising Covid cases

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the rise of Covid-19 infections represented "a clear and real warning" to Spanish people's health. Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / POOL
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned the population of a "real risk" of a new wave of infections as a result of the more contagious Omicron coronavirus variant and called for preventative measures to be stepped up.

In a six-minute televised address on Sunday morning, Sánchez said the presidents of all of Spain’s regions would attend an emergency meeting online on Wednesday afternoon “to evaluate new measures that can be put in place over the next few weeks”.

Despite the incidence rate of the virus variant still being below that of other neighbouring countries, he said the rise of infections still represented “a clear and real warning to the health of our fellow Spaniards and, as such, must compel us to intensify our actions”.

As of Friday, the incidence rate stood at 511 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for the last 14-day period, according to the Spanish health ministry.

However, Sánchez said the situation looked much better than a year earlier: “It’s true that the characteristics of this new wave are different. It’s worth noting that although the infection numbers are higher, our hospitalisation and ICU admission figures are lower than last year. The first conclusion to be drawn is that vaccines work,” he said, urging people to continue to get vaccinated.

More than 80 percent of over-60s in Spain have received the booster jab to date, while almost 90 percent of Spaniards are fully vaccinated, a far higher level of coverage than that seen in most other EU countries.

In Germany, for example, just 70.2 percent of the total population were fully vaccinated as of December 17th while 30.3 percent had had a booster, according to the country’s Robert Koch Institute.

Spain currently has 6,667 patients in hospital with Covid-19 or around 5.3 percent of the total capacity, while Covid-19 patients in intensive care make up 14 percent of the available beds, according to El Pais.

This time last year, when the vaccination programme was still to begin, the incidence rate was just 207, but there were 11,366 patients in hospital with Covid-19 – occupying 9.2 percent of available beds.

And in intensive care, 20.4 percent of the total capacity was taken up by Covid-19 patients this time last year.


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