Read in Catalan

Extremely high figures of daily new cases in Catalona as Christmas weekend begins. The news on the pandemic this week in Catalonia has been dominated by these figures, with at least 11,000 daily new cases for the last four days. The data has already set off the alarms and led to the imposition of new restrictive measures by the Catalan authorities, such as the re-imposition of curfew from 1am to 6am, which is in force until January 6th. There is also one new restriction that will apply across the whole of the Spanish state: the use of masks in outdoor locations is now mandatory again.

The last day before the holidays maintains the upward Covid trend in Catalonia. Hospitalizations are also rising, at levels that, in some ways, look similar to those of a year ago. In fact, on December 24th, 2020, there were 1,520 admissions and 336 people in the ICUs in Catalonia; now, in 2021, we have 1,359 in general wards and 376 in intensive care. However, there are important differences this December: 

"We have three times as much incidence of Covid as a year ago, but the same number of patients in ICUs and three times less mortality. The vaccines have worked", said the Catalan health minister, Josep Maria Argimon, this Monday in an interview on Catalan public television channel TV3. Last year, the Puríssima holiday break in early December triggered a new wave of the pandemic, but it was after the Christmas holidays that the pressure on the health system really impacted. On January 3rd, 2021, there were more than 2,000 people in hospital for Covid in Catalonia, with 392 admissions on a single day. Avoiding a repeat of that situation is a top priority, with the complicating factor of a new variant that is known to be much more infectious, although possibly less severe on some people.

In this context, and to maximise the most powerful weapon in the fight against this sixth wave of Covid in Catalonia, on Monday, booster doses began to be offered to the entire population vaccinated with AstraZeneca. In Catalonia, that meant essential workers - some 200,000 people - and those over 60, and theose people can now make an appointment to receive a third dose of the vaccine. In addition, since Wednesday 22nd, bookings have been open for anyone over 50 to obtain a booster shot in Catalonia. And on the same day, vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 years also began.

Fourteen-day incidence in under 50s (blue) and over 50s (yellow) in Catalonia

The EPG outbreak risk, which is regarded as high if it is above 100, is more than 12 times that, at 1,264 points, 120 more than yesterday. According to the latest data provided by the Catalan department of health, the Rt transmission index stands at 1.33, with a slight fall of 0.06 since yesterday. This means that every 100 people infected will pass the virus on to 133 more. With the omicron variant, Rt levels of between 2 and 3, and even higher at times, have been detected in some countries. The 14-day incidence of Covid in Catalonia is 978.06 per 100,000 inhabitants (yesterday it was 845.17). (The current curfew in Catalonia is calculated based on a 7-day incidence level of 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a level exceeded by around 120 municipalities with population over 10,000, with the full list here).    

Current EPG or outbreak risk index in Catalonia by municipalities

New infections and deaths

Today's most outstanding data, however, is again the rise in new infections - 15,030 new cases in the last 24 hours - with the daily staistical progress this week having been as follows: 4,232 were reported on Monday, 11,428 on Tuesday, 11,085 on Wednesday and 13,368 on Thursday. The total number of positive cases in Catalonia since the beginning of the pandemic is 1,174,484. 

Evolution of Covid in Catalonia since the start of the pandemic (blue = confirmed cases, red = deaths)

The positivity index stands at 12.21%, a figure that more than doubles the 5% mark set by the World Health Organization as a good indicator that a country has a pandemic under control. Between November 30th and December 6th, the figure stood at 7.62%, and between December 7th and 13th it was 11.45%.

The total number of deaths in Catalonia from coronavirus since March 2020 is 24,434. In the last day, CatSalut has reported 21 further fatalities.

Daily deaths from Covid in Catalonia reported since June 2021

Vaccination campaign in Catalonia

As for vaccination levels in Catalonia, on Friday 24th, the data shows a total of 6,250,177 Catalan residents vaccinated with a first dose (14,885 in the last 24 hours). A total of 6,051,828 have received the "full vaccination" (7,284 in the last 24 hours), normally counting the two initial jabs although this figure also includes those who have had the single dose Janssen vaccine. By Friday, people in Catalonia who have had an additional booster shot (usually a third jab) amounted to a total of 1,686,796 (58,082 in the last 24 hours).

Vaccination in Catalonia, broken down by age groups and population categories, showing: (Orange bars) % coverage of first dose, (Yellow) % fully vaccinated, (Grey) % with 3rd or booster dose, (Black) % unvaccinated. 

More than 78.9% of the Catalan population has received the first dose of the Covid vaccine, according to CatSalut. The percentage who have their "full vaccination", usually meaning two jabs, is 76.1%.

The vaccination period began on December 27th 2020, as in most European Union countries, which have pursued a joint strategy.



Main image: Antigen (or lateral flow) test cards / Europa Press