Spain’s health ministry continues to closely monitor the British, South African, and Brazilian variants of the COVID-19 virus and has now put its focus on four new variants – two from the UK, one from California, and another from Rio de Janeiro, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.
Spain is facing a “decisive moment” in its fight against the virus, as the prevalence rate has dropped to 252 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last fortnight, a figure very close to the “extreme risk threshold” established at 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, sources from Spain’s health authorities have announced.
The latest update of the “Report on the epidemiological situation of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 and other variants of interest” in Spain, reveals that 11 cases of the Rio de Janeiro variant, known as P.2, have been reported in the country, two of them in travellers diagnosed in Madrid and the other nine in the Canary Islands.
Experts stressed that Spain’s extraordinary – and in some cases draconian- coronavirus measures, including mobility restrictions and nightly curfews, should not be relaxed, despite the positive trend.
According to Fernando Simón, the director of the Centre for Coordination of Emergencies and Health Alerts in Spain’s health ministry, the prevalence rate remains high, meaning “our guard” should not be lowered too much.
Some provinces and regions, including the community of Madrid (centre), Galicia (northeast), and Castilla-La Mancha (centre-south), have relaxed some of their measures.
In an effort to mitigate the pandemic’s negative impact on the economy, particularly for the tourism and services sectors, two main drivers of Spain’s economy, these provinces and regions allowed bars and restaurants to extend their opening hours.
The last (extended) state of alarm in Spain, decreed by the socialist-leftist government of PSOE and Unidas Podemos/United We Can, is due to expire on 9 May.
To date, more than three million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered and close to 1.2 million people have been fully immunised, health sources confirmed.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Carlos III Health Institute) has joined an EU-funded project focused on the research of the different SARS-CoV-2 variants and the development of new European vaccines, Spanish media reported on Tuesday.
[Edited by Daniel Eck]