CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus incidence rate falls across Spain, but remains at ‘very high’ levels

The latest Health Ministry report recorded 12,289 new cases and added 337 deaths to the official toll

Residents in the Bilbao neighborhood of Santutxu waiting for a PCR test.
Residents in the Bilbao neighborhood of Santutxu waiting for a PCR test.Luis Tejido / EFE

The incidence rate of the coronavirus continues to fall across Spain. The latest Health Ministry report, released on Thursday, recorded 12,289 new cases and added 337 deaths to the official toll. According to the report, the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 325. As this rate has dropped, the pressure on Spain’s hospitals has also eased, with the occupancy rate of coronavirus patients slowly falling.

Despite this improvement, all key indicators continue to be “very high,” warned Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES) at a government press conference on Thursday. “This is not where we want to be,” he said, explaining that Spain was still far from reaching the goal of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a threshold that health authorities consider as having the epidemic under control.

The coronavirus incidence rate has fallen in all of Spain’s 17 regions, with the exception of the Canary Islands, where the figure has been stable for weeks, with slight fluctuations. The 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the archipelago stands at 77.6, the lowest rate in Spain.

The situation is not one of calm. It is important for both individuals and institutions to keep up the pressure and maintain the measures
Fernando Simón, director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts

Simón said that the incidence rate is not only falling across Spain, it is also falling among seniors over the age of 65, the collective most vulnerable to Covid-19. “But the situation is not one of calm. It is important for both individuals and institutions to keep up the pressure and maintain the measures,” he added, in reference to the restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Simón explained that there is a clear downward trend, but that this could be upset by the upcoming long weekend and Christmas holiday period. December 8 is a national holiday in Spain, while December 7 is a holiday in all regions except Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Valencia, Galicia and the Basque Country. Under normal circumstances, this would be a time when many Spaniards take a holiday and travel, for example, to second residences in other parts of the country. “Let’s see how we behave,” said Simón. “It will have some effect, but we hope it will be as little as possible.”

On what restrictions will be in place over the Christmas holiday period, Simón said that it will be up to the regions to decide what measures to introduce, adding that these should be adapted to the epidemiological situation the regions find themselves in at the time. The health expert said that he was not completely opposed to the idea of testing everyone who returns home over the festive season, but explained that the Health Ministry’s policy was to carry out “targeted” testing, “not to do them in cases where they make no sense.” Simón said that the usefulness of PCR and antigen tests depended on the context, meaning it was important to be “careful” with large-scale testing. Antigen tests, for example, are not recommended in mass testing campaigns.

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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