Fifth wave of pandemic is 'waning', says Catalan health minister
Under 1% of fully vaccinated residents have become infected with Covid-19
Covid-19 infections are now "waning," Catalan health minister Josep Maria Argimon said in Parliament on Wednesday, adding that he expected a return to normalcy to occur "soon."
This comes after what he described as an unexpected surge in cases — the current 14-day incidence rate is almost 1,200, almost twice the average for Spain as a whole — that saw Catalonia placed in the European Union's highest risk category.
Argimon admitted that authorities had expected infections to rise, but not as rapidly as they did. Yet, he maintained that cases had "peaked a week ago."
The more contagious Delta variant, which now accounts for over 80% of new infections, led to skyrocketing incidence rates especially among younger, not yet fully vaccinated residents.
Opposition parties delivered scorching remarks, from the conservative People's Party, which called out what it characterized as the hypocrisy of Catalan authorities for criticizing Spain's handling of the early pandemic while failing to foresee the impact of the current wave, to far-right Vox's calls for Argimon to step down.
"Very effective" vaccines
Only 0.5% of fully vaccinated Catalan residents have fallen ill with Covid-19, public health secretary Carmen Cabezas said on Wednesday. According to her, this means that vaccines are "very effective."
There are currently around 3 million people who have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks, of which some 17,000 have become infected.
A total of 875 of these people have had to be hospitalized - 28 per 100,000 - while 78 have required ICU care.
Covid-19 in Catalonia
As of July 20, 850,821 people have tested positive for the virus, while 22,352 have died.
4,811,503 residents have been given the first dose of the vaccine, accounting for 62,4% of Catalonia's total population. Of those, 3,697,274 have also received a second dose (47.9% of the total population). 4,139,555 people are considered to be fully immunized (53.6%) as under 65s who have already had the virus are only required to have one dose and others have received a single-dose jab.