Catalonia’s Covid-19 cases spike after holidays and due to new Omicron subvariants

30% of people attending emergency services at Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar are due to Covid-19

People queue at the entrance to Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, June 28, 2022 (by Martí Rodríguez)
People queue at the entrance to Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, June 28, 2022 (by Martí Rodríguez) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 29, 2022 02:23 PM

October 24, 2022 12:12 PM

Catalonia’s coronavirus situation has completely changed in recent days with an increase in Covid-19 cases. After a bank holiday weekend and the arrival of new Omicron subvariants, authorities have registered more positives but with fewer hospitalizations. 

In fact, around 30% of people attending the emergency department at Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar are there because of Covid-19 symptoms. However, Covid-19 hospitalizations amount to less than 10% of the overall capacity, Dr Robert Güerri, the head of infectious diseases at Hospital del Mar, one of the biggest health centers in Catalonia, said on Tuesday. 

On a similar note, Carmen Cabezas, Catalan public health secretary, highlighted the "progressive growth of cases, but we are nowhere near the beginning of the year with the arrival of the Omicron variant," she said.

The new Omicron subvariants, the BA.4 and the BA.5 are more transmissible and can evade vaccines easier than previous variants. The recent holiday period for Sant Joan has also been a time of increased interaction and social gatherings prompting easier virus transmission.

Güerri, who is also the Covid-19 Hospitalization Coordinator at Hospital del Mar, hopes for the current case spikes to drop in the coming days, to avoid hospitals becoming "saturated." He also recommends that vulnerable people wear a face mask, but says putting in place new Covid-19 restrictions would not make sense. 

For Güerri, the increase in cases is due to the new Omicron variants that are more resistant to vaccines. However, right now, compared to other Covid-19 waves, only vulnerable people tend to be hospitalized. 

On a similar note, the head of epidemiology at Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, Antoni Trilla, acknowledged on Wednesday, that the seventh wave does not worry doctors and nurses as "the vast majority of the population can, and should, live a normal life, while being cautious," he said to the Catalan News Agency (ACN). 

Like Güerri, Trilla does not believe new measures should be put in place to avoid new Covid-19 cases but recommends using face masks for older people and being thoughtful when meeting up.

 The current situation in the hospital was inevitable as the virus is still around, but the social context "differs" from the hospitalization reality with 40 occupied beds by Covid-19 patients, but hundreds of new cases being reported weekly. But he pointed out that it will be necessary to "live" with the virus as there will be peaks and troughs. 

In fact, the virus will not go away but what people will experience is a "change," due to the emerging variants, Dr Güerri said. 

Something Dr Trilla shares as people "will have to get used" to the new reality. 

In the Hospital del Mar, authorities have 150 patients hospitalized in the Covid-19 area, but half of them were taken in due to other issues and then tested positive. Of these, 18 are in the ICU unit

Over two years since first lockdown

Back in March, Catalan News made a special episode of our Filling the Sink podcast episode to mark the second anniversary of Covid in Catalonia. 

It featured Dr Robert Güerri explain how the pandemic affected him professionally and personally.