SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

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

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.

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

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

‘Populism always ends in catastrophe’: How Spain has reacted to Italy’s vote

The likely victory of Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party in Sunday’s elections has not gone unnoticed in Spain, where voices from across the political spectrum have either lauded or criticised the results.  

'Populism always ends in catastrophe': How Spain has reacted to Italy's vote

Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, looks set to form Italy’s most far-right government since dictator Benito Mussolini.

Meloni came top in Italian elections on Sunday, the first exit polls suggested, putting her eurosceptic populists on course to take power at the heart of Europe.

The party has never held office but as of Monday morning, with the count still in progress, it looked set to claim over 44 percent of the vote, making it the clear victor.

It hasn’t taken long for reactions to the Italian elections to pour in from Spain, a country with close cultural and linguistic similarities to Italy.

Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Sunday, has not commented publicly yet on Meloni’s likely victory, leaving it instead to Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares to give his opinions on Italy’s general election results. 

“These are uncertain times and at times like this, populist movements always grow, but it always ends in the same way – in catastrophe – because they offer simple short-term answers to problems which are very complex,” Albares told reporters at a briefing.

Asked if the far-right’s victory in Italy could be “extrapolated” to Spain, the Foreign Minister ruled this out as a possibility. He acknowledged that the results were completely legitimate but added that Meloni’s governance model was closer to Putin’s than to the EU’s. 

“This (Meloni’s) is an authoritarian model that is contrary to the pillars of European construction, which is the basis of our prosperity.”

On the other hand, Ione Belarra, head of far-left party Unidas Podemos, which forms part of Spain’s governing coalition, said that: “The victory of the Italian far right showcases the normalisation of hate speech and the lack of courageous policies that protect the social majority. Spain is not free from experiencing something like this. Now is the time to open up urgent and ambitious debates.”

The reaction has been completely the opposite from Spain’s very own far-right party: Vox.

“Tonight, millions of Europeans have their hopes pinned on Italy,” tweeted Vox leader Santiago Abascal along with pictures of Meloni and him.

“Giorgia Meloni has shown the way forward for a Europe of proud, free and sovereign nations, capable of cooperating for the security and prosperity of all. Avanti Fratelli d’Italia.”

Madrid’s regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, a member of Spain’s right-wing Popular Party (PP), criticised the Spanish Socialists’ reaction to the Italian vote by saying “It’s only democracy when those who win are the ones they support”, adding that they should wait to see “in detail” what Meloni’s government has to offer. 

Madrid’s divisive leader said the Italian election vote shows how the strategy of “joining Socialists with the far left is a disaster that will lead to their demise”. 

On the other hand, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, PP party leader and presidential candidate for Spain’s 2023 general elections, took a more cautious approach, arguing that it was “not the result we were most in favour of”, whilst stating that Italian voters “had clearly manifested their position” and that the new Italian government should “bring stability” not only to Italy but to the whole of the EU. 

READ ALSO: Who is Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s likely next prime minister?

SHOW COMMENTS