CORONAVIRUS

Spain’s health minister predicts ‘short confinements,’ a ‘different Christmas’

Speaking to RAC1 radio station, Salvador Illa also said he thought that a vaccine would be ready by the start of next year. ‘There are between five and six complicated months left,’ he said

Health Minister Salvador Illa in Congress on Thursday.
Health Minister Salvador Illa in Congress on Thursday.Bernardo Diaz / Europa Press

Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Friday that coronavirus confinements in the coming months would be “drastic but short,” as is already happening across Europe during this second wave of the health crisis. As for the Christmas season, the Socialist Party (PSOE) politician said that it “would not be normal, it will be different and with distance” compared to other years.

Speaking during an interview with the RAC1 radio station, Illa also pledged that a coronavirus vaccine would be ready by the start of 2021, adding that it would still take some time until the population was vaccinated and the pandemic could be considered over.

“There are between five and six complicated months left for us to go,” he said, during which time Spaniards will have to continue to live with a highly contagious virus that can cause a lot of complications, he warned.

Illa said that a vaccine could still come “as a Christmas gift”

Illa also analyzed the restrictions that were introduced today in Catalonia, with bars and restaurants being forced to close for a two-week period in a bid to halt the spread of the virus. “It’s much better to act ahead of time and drastically than to wait until cases start to rise,” he said. “This won’t be solved in 15 days in Catalonia, in Spain or in Europe,” he warned. “The situation is worrying, we must take precautions and we must take this seriously,” he insisted.

The minister also ruled out another lockdown, one that would see Spaniards confined to their homes as they were between March and June of this year. “It is not necessary to go that far,” he said. “We have already addressed other outbreaks,” he added, saying that “in the coming weeks and months surgical measures” will be needed in order to react to a changeable epidemiological situation.

By next summer, Illa continued, the situation will be “much more normal than the current one,” adding that a vaccine could still come “as a Christmas gift.” One of the vaccine contracts, he explained, includes three million doses for Spain.

Several months will be needed to distribute the vaccine, Illa explained, something that will be done in a “fair and proportional” manner among Spain’s regions. A group of experts is working to determine how a mass vaccination program will be carried out, he added.

The minister also called for “a very belligerent approach to deniers and anti-vaxxers. Vaccinations save lives. They will have to be given to whoever the scientists say: those who are more at risk or those who are in contact with those who are at risk.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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