16 cases of UK strain of Covid-19 already detected in Catalonia
Public health secretary certain number of positives of new variant will continue to increase
Catalan health authorities have already detected 16 cases of the UK strain of Covid-19.
On Wednesday, the public health secretary, Josep Maria Argimon, confirmed it in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, saying that "this figure will certainly increase."
Argimon admitted that this new variant concerns him because if it is more contagious, eventually Catalonia will have more patients in ICUs. The situation in intensive care worries authorities, since it has already reached the peak levels
of the second wave in November, at 612 patients as of January 19.
On January 7, the health ministry reported the first case of the new strain believed to have originated in the southeast of England.
The new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus presents a series of mutations that experts believe make it as much as 70% more transmissible than other strains.
In order to monitor the new strain more closely, three of the biggest public hospitals in the country (Vall d'Hebron, Can Ruti and Bellvitge) will perform a sequencing study that will begin with a random analysis of around 10% of the total daily new cases, that is to say, around 350.
This will enable authorities to monitor the situation in a "more advanced" way than now.
8 pm curfew
The Catalan government is expected to announce on Thursday whether the current restrictions are extended again, or they are tightened or loosened.
For Argimon, the municipality-level lockdown has to continue, and the current restrictions on bars and restaurants should not be modified either – such establishments can only open from 7 am to 9.30 am and from 1 pm to 3.30 pm, with only delivery and takeaway allowed for dinner.
Besides, on Wednesday, the Spanish government and the regional health ministries, such as Catalonia's, will meet in order to discuss about the possibility to move the nightly curfew forward to 8 pm.
During his interview, the Catalan public health secretary said that "it would be good" to set the night lockdown at 8 pm, two hours before now.