After experiencing an increase in infections after the Christmas holidays that caused the third wave of coronavirus in Spain, regional authorities introduced stricter restrictions for their residents to curb infections.
These proved to be very effective in reducing infection rates, especially in regions such as Valencia, where stricter regulations for mobility and for the hospitality sector contributed to making the Mediterranean region one of the areas in Europe with the rate lowest biweekly number of coronavirus infection (31 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on March 23).
READ MORE: How the Valencia region in Spain achieved one of the lowest infection rates in Europe
After weeks of negotiations, regions of Spain also agreed to ban interregional travel during Easter for residents, in a bid to limit mobility and the spread of the virus.
However, foreign tourists (mainly from the EU) were allowed to visit if they presented a negative PCR test and the Spanish police had to break up dozens of meetings and parties in which participants did not maintain a safe distance or wear face masks.
So where is the infection rate in Spain after falling below the high-risk threshold of 150 infections per 100,000 inhabitants (up to 128 per 100,000 on March 23)?
“There has been an upward trend across the country.” Spain’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simón concluded at the state press conference on Monday as the Easter holidays came to an end.
Spain’s Ministry of Health recorded a 12-point increase in the country’s biweekly infection rate over the course of two days, from 151 cases per 100,000 residents on Saturday to 163 infections per 100,000 residents on Monday.
The first data from the Spanish health authorities showed a steady increase in coronavirus cases since mid-March, however, the head of Health Emergencies, Fernando Simón, had said that the infections could be contained as a “small wave.”
The accumulated 14 days of cases per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 149 on April 1, and 12 of the autonomous communities of Spain registered an increase in infections at the beginning of the Easter holidays.
On April 5, this increase in Covid-19 infections was applied to all autonomous communities except the Canary Islands, where the contagion rate fell two points.
The Spanish Ministry of Health has reported 10,360 new cases of coronavirus during the Easter period, bringing Spain’s total from the pandemic to 3.31 million infections.
There have also been 85 deaths during Holy Week, bringing the total death toll in Spain to 75,783.
Which regions now have the highest infection rates in Spain?
The autonomous city of Melilla (426 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days), Navarra in northern Spain (352); Neighbor of Melilla in North Africa Ceuta (342); Madrid (272); The Basque Country (271) and Catalonia (216) are the Spanish regions with the highest rates of contagion in Spain today.
Regions with more than 250 infections per 100,000 inhabitants are classified as “very high risk” or “extreme risk”.
Between 100 and 200 cases, with 150 cases per 100,000 people being the “high risk” threshold, are La Rioja (177); Asturias (162); Andalusia (155); Castile and Leon (154); Aragon (152); Cantabria (134); Canary Islands (122); Extremadura (120); and Castilla-La Mancha (105).
The Autonomous Communities with the lowest contagion rate in the last 14 days are the Valencian Community (33), which has managed to keep its contagion rate under absolute control during Holy Week in Murcia (62); Balearic Islands (65) and Galicia (66).
The head of Health Emergencies of Spain, Fernando Simón, has asked the Spanish to treat the data “with caution” due to some delays in the delivery of new figures for the Easter holidays, although he has also acknowledged that there has been a ” slight increase ”at the national level both in terms of infections and hospital pressure.
“We hope that the trend will continue in the coming days and at the end of this week we will see the impact that mobility has had at Easter,” he added, referring to the gradual upward trend, instead of skyrocketing.
“We hope that (the increase) is not very important, but of course it will impact the evolution of the pandemic.”
Despite the increase in infections as well as hospital beds and ICU occupation, Simón stressed that there is a “clear” decrease in the number of deaths from Covid-19, mainly attributed to the vaccination campaign.
As of Tuesday, April 6, 6 percent of the Spanish population has received the complete inoculation of two doses, while 12 percent have received the first dose.
Most regions are still completing the rollout of vaccination for the over 80s, which was due to wrap up in March.
If this increase in infections during Holy Week (around 35,000 new cases last week) translates into the fourth wave of coronavirus in Spain, it will be more evident in the coming days when more data is published.
According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, the data available so far suggests that the infection rate preceding this possible fourth wave has not increased as dramatically as it did after Christmas, when the third wave occurred.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism