Spain has registered more than 6 million Covid infections since the very beginning of the pandemic.
Today, Wednesday, December 29, the Spanish Health Ministry and the autonomous communities will debate their next move regarding Covid restrictions.
The discussion will highlight the possibility of following the example of countries like Greece and the USA, who have already agreed to reduce the number of days residents need to isolate, from 10 days to just five in the case of asymptomatic patients, or those displaying mild symptoms.
This decision would probably have been made because studies have shown that the period of greatest transmission of the virus is the two days before symptoms start to show, and the three days after.
Just last week the Public Health Commission agreed that close contacts of positive cases who are fully vaccinated no longer need to self-isolate.
Today's meeting follows yesterday's news from the Ministry of Health, who announced that another 99,671 new positive cases have been registered. Data also showed that the national incidence rate has risen 154 points from the previous day, reaching 1,360 cases per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days. A further 114 fatalities were also registered, compared with 94 last Tuesday
The region with the highest number of cases is still Navarre, with 2,717 cases per 100,000, La Rioja follows with 2,385 and the Basque Country with 2,105.
As for the number of people hospitalised, currently, 9,852 patients are being treated for Covid-19, which is 322 more than on Monday. Sadly the pressure on intensive care units is also still rising, with 19% of beds occupied by coronavirus patients compared to 18% the previous day.
Since the pandemic hit Spain a total of 6,032,297 official infections have been registered and 89,253 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19.
As for Spain’s vaccination campaign, on Monday 364,129 Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered, of which 43,446 doses were for the five to 12-year age group, the latest to be included in the ongoing campaign. Of this age range, 24.6% of children have already received their first dose.
On top of that, a further 311,281 booster shots were also given, with 87% of the over-70s having received their third shot. For those in the over-60 age group, 72% have had their booster, in the over-50s the percentage falls to 24%, and for the 40-49 age group it is 14%.
Also, 59% of residents who were initially given the single-shot Janssen vaccine have received a booster of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
Since the vaccination campaign began, the number of vaccines administered totals 85,808,023, with 92% of the over-12s having had at least one dose, and 89.9% having received the full two.
With the outbreak of the new Omicron variant and the fact that many people who have been vaccinated are either experiencing asymptomatic infections or are at least suffering from very mild symptoms, many experts have been led to question whether or not a change of strategy is needed on the part of the Health Ministry and the Spanish regions.
Jesús Rodríguez Baño, the head of infectious diseases at the Hospital Virgen de la Macarena in Seville argued that “A change in the approach of mass diagnosis is needed because we are overwhelming healthcare centres, emergency rooms and microbiology services when this is unacceptable and unnecessary.”
“With the current levels of transmission and the mildness of the majority of cases among vaccinated people, it would be better to make some general recommendations to citizens, use monitoring centres to follow the epidemiological development and focus our efforts on the population that is at greatest risk of suffering serious cases.”
José Luis Alfonso, the head of preventive medicine at the Hospital General in Valencia, believes that “a change is underway in the epidemiological panorama given the new variant, which is more adapted to human beings and milder.” Adding that “This and the greater protection that the population has thanks to vaccines and infections they’ve already had requires an adaptation of the measures adopted against the pandemic. Shortening the isolation period is a step in the right direction that all countries will be taking.”
Meanwhile, with Spain’s positivity rate standing at 18.88 per cent, up from 17.94 per cent on Monday. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that this figure should be below 5 per cent to consider the spread of the virus as 'controlled'.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa
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