Sixth wave in Spain: Restrictions on the rise due to the explosion of contagions from covid-19: Asturias closes the nightclubs for a month | Society

Several people with masks in the surroundings of the City Council of Oviedo and El Fontán.
Several people with masks in the surroundings of the City Council of Oviedo and El Fontán.EUROPA PRESS (Europa Press)

The trickle of social restrictions in the face of the rise of covid infections does not stop. The epidemic curve is out of control, with the incidence at record highs (911 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) and breaking the daily record of new infections. In this context, communities are beginning to take steps backwards. To the five autonomies (Catalonia, Murcia, Cantabria, the Canary Islands and Aragon) that on Thursday announced more severe control measures, Asturias is added this Friday, which has announced the closure of nightlife for a month and time limitations in the hospitality industry. Navarra will increase restrictions as of next week and intends to agree on limitations in the hospitality industry with other regions in the north, such as the Basque Country and Aragon. Justice has also endorsed this Friday the covid passport in the Canary Islands to access restaurants and entertainment venues.

The infections reported each day have already been breaking the historical ceiling for a week: on Thursday, almost 73,000 new infections were reported in Spain, according to the Ministry of Health. And this Friday, the records continue: Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia, Aragon, Navarra and the Balearic Islands have once again registered new daily maximums of infections with 10,328, 15,030, 1,898, 2,452, 2,520 and 1,216 positives, respectively. In Navarra it is the fourth consecutive daily record, the third in Aragon and the second in Galicia. The explosion of infections continues to be boosted by the rise of the more contagious omicron variant. This new virus lineage is displacing the currently predominant one (delta) and already accounts for more than 47% of cases in Spain, according to the latest Health variant sequencing report.

With this scenario on the table, some autonomies take measures beyond the guidelines adopted by the central government – this Friday the obligation to use the mask outdoors again came into force. The last has been Asturias, which, given the “exponential growth of infections”, has ordered the closure of nightlife for a month from next Tuesday and it will not be possible to access the interior of the hospitality from one in the morning. The autonomous government has also recommended that social gatherings be limited to a maximum of 10 people.

The Canary Islands, which already announced time restrictions on Thursday in the island’s hotel industry according to their epidemiological situation – the most affected are Gran Canaria and Tenerife, where they will close at 1:00 am -, has also obtained this Friday the endorsement of the Superior Court of Justice of the community to apply for the covid passport to access the leisure and restaurant venues. The Community of Madrid, for its part, although it remains reluctant to apply severe measures and is committed to “self-care” and “individual responsibility”, it will have some capacity limitations in the capital in a couple of events: Madrid has established a capacity of 7,000 people, 60% less than in 2019, for the celebration of the rehearsals on December 30 and in the grapes that are celebrated on New Year’s Eve at Puerta del Sol.

The community with the toughest restrictions continues to be Catalonia, which has already introduced a curfew, the limitation of meetings to a maximum of 10 people, the closure of nightlife and reduced capacity in the hotel industry. According to data from the Government, in the week of December 14 to 20, more than 46,000 infections have been reported, almost triple than three weeks ago. And it is the community that suffers the greatest healthcare pressure, with more than 30% of the intensive care beds (ICU) occupied by patients with covid: this Friday there were 1,359 coronavirus patients admitted to Catalan hospitals, 376 of them in the ICU , according to the Catalan Executive. The regional president, Pere Aragonès, has asked this Friday to “reduce to the maximum” dinners, lunches and social gatherings these days.

In addition to Catalonia, Murcia has opted for the limitation of business hours, the Canary Islands for restricting those of the hotel industry, Cantabria for the closure of nightlife and Aragon will put measures next week, but has not specified which ones.

In Navarra, starting next week, the covid passport will be required to access gyms and sports centers. In addition, the Provincial Government will once again request the courts for their endorsement so that nursing homes can request the vaccination certificate from visitors – the measure was overturned by the Superior Court of Justice because it was requested by the Ministry of Social Rights, and it is up to the Health Department. In addition, the Executive intends to advance the closing time of the hotel business to one in the morning and prohibit consumption at the bar. Two measures that the president, María Chivite, aspires to agree with the neighboring communities, such as the Basque Country, La Rioja and Aragón, so that they come into force before New Year’s Eve. In this community it is also recommended that family and friend gatherings be no more than ten people.

Assistance pressure

Professionals, from epidemiologists to primary care physicians, are calling for more drastic measures to contain the epidemic curve. Even though the omicron variant is milder, as some preliminary studies point out, the size of the wave – the absolute number of infections – can compromise the health system. In fact, primary care is already overwhelmed and health centers saturated. A survey by the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (Semfyc), after consulting its 17 federated societies, revealed that in five communities, doctors attend more than 50 consultations a day.

The Semfyc warns that the average number of daily consultations in Spain stands, according to its survey, at 48 visits. That is, a higher figure than that calculated in the first wave and in the summer of 2020 (37 and 43 respectively). “It is an unsustainable situation and represents a health care security risk,” the organization said in a statement. An example of the boom in consultations in primary care is given by the health centers in Catalonia: daily visits for covid have exceeded 40,000, double the number two weeks ago.

Hospitals are still holding out: there are about 8,000 admitted for covid, 1,500 in the ICU. These are, however, figures that are still far from the 30,000 hospitalized and the 4,800 patients in the ICU that were registered in the third wave, last January.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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