It’s a decision that’s been in the pipeline for some time and one which will effectively mean that the national infection rate, one of the key epidemiological indicators up to now, will no longer be used to evaluate the state of the pandemic in Spain.
On Thursday March 10th, Spain’s Interterritorial National Health Council (CISNS) announced that it will soon begin a transition towards not counting each and every new Covid-19 infection there is, and focus instead on monitoring high-risk groups and serious coronavirus cases.
With such high vaccination rates in the country and a dominant Omicron variant that’s proven less lethal than previous strains, the national and regional health representatives that make up CISNS have seen little sense in continuing with the exhaustive surveillance system that’s been in place for the past two years.
Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias has not yet specified when the change in surveillance will come into effect, but details are expected soon.
According to Darias, the transitional system will still be “capable of detecting increases in Covid incidence among the general population” and will allow for “the early detection of new variants and measures of vaccine effectiveness”.
The Health Minister already confirmed last week that instead of daily infection and vaccination reports as has been the case until now, there will only be two a week going forward.
However, given the latest announcement, such reports will not include mild or asymptomatic cases that citizens report to their local health centres.
Back in mid-January, Spanish health authorities announced that they wanted to start monitoring the pandemic in a similar way to seasonal flu and serve as an example to the rest of the world of what reclassifying Covid would mean.
This process is being described as the gripalización (influenza-tion) of the pandemic, whereas others are calling for Spain’s general health system to be covidizado (‘covisized’), two newly coined terms which describe different ways to adapt to a post-pandemic world.
In the end, other European countries have been faster to remove all Covid restrictions, but Spain is now taking small steps towards easing its outdated coronavirus rulebook.
There had been hopes that the Interterritorial National Health Council meeting held in Zaragoza on Thursday would also lead to a decision on the end of rule for face masks in indoor settings, but no announcement has yet been made on this.