CORONAVIRUS

New coronavirus infections increase by 25% in a week in Spain

Half of the country’s territories are once again above the extreme-risk level in terms of the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants

A coronavirus test is administered in Palma de Mallorca on Sunday.
A coronavirus test is administered in Palma de Mallorca on Sunday.CATI CLADERA / EFE

The Christmas season in Spain, which includes several national holidays, is making the country’s latest coronavirus data difficult to analyze. That was the warning voiced on Monday by the country’s territorial policy minister, Carolina Darias, when she was presenting the latest Health Ministry report on the pandemic.

Compared with the data seen on December 28, the ministry’s latest report is showing a very similar situation – both of these reports were released after a four-day period of celebrations, the former Christmas, the latter New Year.

The number of new cases notified has risen 25% in the last report from a week ago, from 24,462 to 30,579, bringing the overall total of official cases in Spain to 1,958,844 since the health crisis began. In terms of the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the figure has risen from 246.19 to 272.22 over this seven-day period, a figure that is far from the 188.72 on December 10, as Minister Darias pointed out while speaking after a meeting of the country’s regional health chiefs and the central Health Ministry.

The outlook is that this will worsen in the coming weeks, as a result of the increased social interaction over the Christmas period

While the worsening of the situation varies from region to region, nine of Spain’s 19 territories (the 17 regions and the North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla) now have a 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants above 250, considered the extreme-risk level by the Spanish government. Compared with a week ago, this figure has worsened in all regions apart from Valencia and the Basque Country. Extremadura exceeds 600 (it is now at 604, 50% up on a week ago) and the Balearic Islands continue to be above 500, at 529.9. Other regions where the incidence has risen by more than 20% in a week include Aragón (29%), Cantabria (22%), Castilla-La Mancha (21%), Castilla y León (30%), Ceuta (80%), Melilla (20%), Murcia (51%) and La Rioja (39%).

During the same press conference on Monday, Health Minister Salvador Illa warned that this week will also be one of high risk, with all of the regions very concerned about the situation in their hospitals. This was reflected in Monday’s report, with an 11.2% occupation of beds by Covid-19 patients across the country, and 23% occupation of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, a figure that had not been seen since December 7. Compared with December 28, the rise is practically 10% for both indicators.

The only indicator that has improved compared to a week ago is the number of Covid-related deaths. Between January 1 and 4, a total of 241 were reported, while between December 25 and 28 this figure was 298. The official death toll in Spain since the start of the pandemic now stands at 51,0178.

As Darias and Illa indicated, the outlook is that this will worsen in the coming weeks, as a result of the increased social interaction over the Christmas period and in spite of the ramping up of coronavirus restrictions across regions. In Aragón, all non-essential establishments will have to close at 8pm; Castilla y León is prohibiting eating and drinking inside hostelry establishments in Segovia; and Catalonia is implementing perimetral lockdowns of its municipalities from January 7 for 10 days, closing shopping malls and only permitting essential activity on weekends.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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