As Spain’s Christmas campaign has begun, the pandemic data that was announced by the Ministry of Health and Families on Monday doesn’t look very promising.
A total figure of 442 positive Covid cases was detected by PDIA (PCR and rapid antigen test) in Malaga, a recorded figure that is the highest it has been since the end of last August. Daily infections at the beginning of autumn didn't exceed a hundred.
Of those 442 new cases, at least 68 of them are doctors and nurses from the Intensive Care Unit at the Regional Hospital of Malaga. It is believed that the outbreak is from a Christmas lunch that was attended by 173 ICU medical staff.
Experts believe that this illustrates the risks of large social gatherings or ‘superspreader events’ over the festive season. These types of events could help push up the curve of infections, although not necessarily lead to hospital admissions.
According to healthcare sources, those who have recently contracted the Covid virus have mild symptoms, with some being asymptomatic. It has however prompted quarantines, restructuring at workplaces and added pressure on primary healthcare and public health services.
For epidemiologists, the outbreak in Málaga is a timely indication that Covid-19 is still spreading across Spain and if restrictions are not put in place to curb the spread of the virus during the Christmas party season, there will be consequences. Something the health authorities have repeatedly been saying.
Researcher in Computational Biology at the Catalonia Polytechnic University (UPC), Clara Prats, sums up the situation: “The growth in cases will continue for at least the next two weeks. Beyond that, it’s difficult to make predictions. Independently of whether we reach a peak at Christmas, a week before or after, over these dates we will have quite high levels of transmission. As such, the likelihood that at any meeting, whether it’s for work or with family, that there is an infected person there is not negligible. As such, we have to behave accordingly: not hold large meetings, limit them to close contacts, and be careful with ventilation.”
However, for now, Spain’s central Health Ministry has no plans to impose drastic measures. It is hoped that the measures that have been put in place by individual regions, who are in charge of their own restrictions, healthcare system and vaccination campaigns, will help to keep the situation under control.
A document from the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES) that recommended “establishing limits for the number of participants at public and social events, especially during Christmas celebrations” has so far been ignored by the central health authorities.
To date, 160,696 people from Malaga have contracted the virus since the start of the Covid pandemic and the incidence rate in Andalusia has risen ten and a half points in recent days and rises to 135.79 cases per one hundred thousand inhabitants.
The situation in Malaga hospitals is not however that of four months ago when the number of admitted Covid patients exceeded 370. According to data from the Andalusian Government, as of this holiday Monday there are 90 people that have been hospitalised in the province, of which 24 are in the Intensive Care Units (ICU).
The Malaga province continues to be the region with the highest number of hospitalised patients in Andalusia, followed by Seville with 74. In total, 328 confirmed Covid patients remain admitted to Andalusian hospitals, of which 70 are in the ICU.
Data shows that as of Monday, December 6, there have been 2,017 fatalities in the Malaga region and 11,350 in Andalusia.
Last week, Health Minister Carolina Darias called for people to “get vaccinated and maintain protection measures” such as wearing masks, washing hands regularly and distancing themselves from others where possible.