Spain’s coronavirus incidence rate continues to fall, but authorities urge caution

The data point dropped just seven points on Monday, compared to more than 18 the previous week, sparking concerns that there will be a new uptick in cases if restrictions are relaxed

Health workers in Severo Ochoa hospital in the Madrid district of Leganés in December.
Health workers in Severo Ochoa hospital in the Madrid district of Leganés in December.Bernat Armangue (AP)

The coronavirus incidence continues to fall in Spain, but it is doing so at a slower rate. According to the latest report from the central Health Ministry, which was released on Monday evening and covers Friday to Sunday, the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 142.24, having been falling since February 12, when it peaked at 899.9 during the third wave of the health crisis. The fall from Friday to Monday was just seven points, compared to more than 18 points one week ago.

Health Minister Carolina Darias had already warned on Monday morning that the fall in the key indicator would be less pronounced than it had been previously. What’s more, in Andalusia, the Canary Islands and the North African city of Melilla it has actually risen compared to Friday. The Canaries have in fact seen a rising curve for a week now. Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), said on Monday that these upticks will be regular, albeit not permanent.

The Health Ministry reported 11,958 new cases on Monday, the lowest number for that day of the week since July

In total, 11,958 new coronavirus infections were reported on Monday. This is the lowest figure for that day of the week since July of last year. On January 25, the data point came in as high as 94,000. The total number of confirmed infections in Spain since the pandemic began is now 3,160,970.

Simón drew attention last night to the low positivity rate in the latest report: just 5.63% of coronavirus tests came back positive, according to Monday’s data.

The government’s chief epidemiologist admitted that this progress has led to regions such as Castilla y León relaxing some of its Covid-19 restrictions, but he warned that the data do not permit for any great easing of measures. He recommended that individuals exercise caution, by continuing to wear masks, observing social distancing and avoiding groups or crowds.

Speaking on Monday morning on the Cadena SER radio network, Health Minister Carolina Darias reminded listeners that the objective is to reach an incidence of 25 – only the Extremadura region has managed to get as low as 50 so far. She added that she hopes that there will be a consensus at the next Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS), which brings together the country’s health chiefs and the central ministry, to agree on measures that will be mandatory for all regions. So far, the Madrid government is the only one to reject the perimetral lockdowns of the country’s regions that have been agreed on a preliminary basis for Easter week.

Just 5.63% of coronavirus tests came back positive, according to Monday’s data

The good progress in general of the pandemic is still not being fully reflected in the number of fatalities. Monday’s report added 298 Covid-19 deaths to the total, which is the lowest Monday figure since January 4. But the seven-day number is as high as 1,827, the maximum since last Tuesday. In total, 71,436 official Covid deaths have been recorded by the Spanish government.

Elsewhere, there is good news in terms of the fall in the occupation of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. The rate is now 24.27%, which is below the 25% considered to be maximum risk according to the ministry. Only the North African city of Ceuta is above 40%, with a rate of 52%. This parameter is also falling slowly, but this is normal because many of the Covid-19 patients who end up in the ICU stay there for a long time. The seven-day fall is just over 10%, the lowest for two weeks. The use of general hospital beds is also falling, and currently stands at 7.81%. A week ago that figure was 9.36%.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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