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A full stay-at-home lockdown in Catalonia has been discarded by the Catalan health authorities, but they warn that the current Covid-19 restrictions will be maintained because, as minister Alba Vergés put it, "the slowdown in the cases of contagion is still far from the goal" and therefore it is necessary "not to lower our guard." 

Coinciding with the request for home confinement bmade this Monday by the government of Asturias, the minister Vergés pointed out that Catalonia is not in the same position and, therefore, it does not expect to request a full lockdown in the short term. Despite this, it will be necessary for current measures to continue, as at the moment Covid-19 patients occupy 57% of intensive care beds, up from 52% before the weekend. In this regard, she backed the measures taken so far - closure of restaurants and bars, curfew and municipal confinement at weekends, among others - and asked for patience, to wait and see the results that these restrictions deliver.

Vergés also admitted she was aware of cancellations of scheduled medical procedures in some hospitals but said that these were "specific" cases.

The virus transmission rate, Rt, has fallen again to 1.12 this Monday in Catalonia, continuing the downward trend seen over the last week. However, as long as this figure is above 1, it indicates just a slowdown rather a contraction of the outbeak. The outbreak risk (EPG) index has fallen from 889 on Sunday to 835 today - still an extreme figure for an index where 100 is classified as "high risk". The 14 day incidence of new cases per 100,000 people (IA14) is at 780, and there have been 66 deaths from Covid-19 registered in Catalonia in the last 24 hours.

Below: Outbreak risk (EPG) index by comarques (counties) in Catalonia  

Covid-19 testing protocol changes

In relation to the change of protocol announced at the weekend in methods for detection of positives among a confirmed case's contacts - testing which until now was done with PCR tests and will now be based on antibody tests - CatSalut officials explained that the reason is technical, and will increases effectivity.

The coordinator of Catalonia's Covid-19 monitoring unit, Dr Jacobo Mendioroz, stated that PCR tests are still "the best", but added the nuance that although antigen tests are not as reliable overall, they provide a smaller margin for error in contexts where there are many cases in the community, which, as he has pointed out, is the situation now. Thus, he said that once the context changes, they will change the protocol again, maintaining this "balance".

Mendioroz did, however, add that they are considering maintaining the existing protocol in care homes and maintaining the use of PCR tests, because in that case, it is important to have "the maximum possible reliability". However, he further suggested that they may combine the two mechanisms, because antigen tests would give much faster detection.

Below: Numbers of Covid-19 patients in intensive care places in Catalonia 

Main photo: Alba Vergés on October 23rd at a Catalan government cabinet meeting / Rubén Moreno


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