Thursday, August 18

Health recommends limiting the number of participants in Christmas events

Christmas lights in Valencia. / EP

The CCAES warns that Ómicron may have a “high impact” on the population if it expands “widely”

Alvaro Soto

The worsening epidemiological situation, with the threat of the new Omicron variant on the horizon, may lead to restrictions in the face of Christmas. For the first time in the sixth wave, the Ministry of Health recommended this Tuesday the implementation of measures to prevent the increase in infections and specifically, asked “to establish limits on the number of participants in public and social events, especially during celebrations of the Christmas holidays “, although without giving concrete figures on what these” limits “should be.

The warning was published in the document ‘Rapid Risk Assessment. Variants of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain: Ómicron and Delta ‘, a text prepared by the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), directed by Fernando Simón.

The ministry prepares “rapid risk assessments” when variants appear that are baptized as “of concern”, which has happened with Ómicron, and the letter that was released yesterday is the sixth since the start of the pandemic. In the document, the reduction of participants in Christmas events is not the only request made by CCAES experts in view of the “current epidemiological context” and “the uncertainties associated with the Omicron variant.”

They also request “the early implementation of prevention measures”, that is, “the appropriate use of a mask, interpersonal distance, adequate ventilation in closed spaces and hand hygiene”, and advise “to continue increasing the coverage percentages vaccination and the administration of booster doses in target populations ”. In addition, they demand “to intensify the control and monitoring measures of people from southern Africa.”

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After the appearance of the first two cases of Ómicron in Spain, both in Madrid and with the complete regimen (the second, confirmed this Tuesday, in a 61-year-old woman from South Africa via Amsterdam and vaccinated with AstraZeneca), and the suspicion of Two others in Catalonia, the epidemiologists of the CCAES consider that “the risk of new introductions” of the variant is “very high” and that of dissemination, “high”. And they argue that if the mutation spreads widely in the population, “which will be conditioned both by the confirmation of increased transmissibility and by the characteristics it presents with respect to immune escape”, “the impact may be high.”

The Public Health Commission, the body that brings together the technicians of the ministry and the autonomous communities to manage the pandemic, already has on the table the possibility of establishing restrictions, although this same Tuesday, Minister Darias prioritized an increase in the number of vaccinated (Spain is already at 90%) and the third doses for people over 60 years of age and vulnerable groups in the face of limitations.

«First and before the restrictions you have to vaccinate. We already know that this is what works ”, he pointed out in Ser Darias, who also announced that the doses to vaccinate children between 5 and 11 years old will not arrive until the second half of December. Thus, the epidemiological situation in the coming weeks will mark the possibility of establishing, or not, restrictions at Christmas.

At the moment, the curve of the pandemic continues without giving respite and this Tuesday it continued its upward trend. The accumulated incidence grew again, nine points, to stand at 208.50, above 200 for the first time since September 2. Infections in the last 24 hours also increased, reaching 10,261, breaking the 10,000 barrier three months later, and the number of deaths, with 44. The increase in positives already clearly affects hospital pressure and ICU occupancy by covid patients rose to 7.76% (7.33% on Monday).

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