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Government to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions as residents asked to 'sacrifice' social life

Measures to affect "mobility and social interaction" set to be announced this week


13 October 2020 10:04 AM


ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan government will introduce new Covid-19 restrictions as early as this week, in an effort to interrupt the abrupt increase of transmissions seen over the past few days.

The executive is currently in talks with trade unions and business associations to negotiate the new measures.

On Tuesday morning, the secretary general of the health department, Marc Ramentol, said in an interview on RAC1 that the limitations will aim to "reduce mobility and social interaction." Restaurants are also expected to be affected by the measure.

Although he avoided disclosing any further details, he was cool about the idea of a lockdown like the one applied to the Lleida area in July.

Yet, the executive already applied some measures this weekend, like urging companies and universities to operate remotely for the next two weeks in an effort to curb the surge in coronavirus infections, which they see as "extremely worrying."

On Monday, the interim health minister, Alba Vergés, asked people to "sacrifice their social life."

For her, the current situation is "complicated" and "risks have to be reduced at all levels." 

Interim government spokesperson Meritxell Budó echoed Verges' concerns regarding the state of the pandemic: "Cases are starting to increase. We find ourselves at the beginning of the second wave." 

Meanwhile, Lorena Roldán of opposition party Ciudadanos responded to the news of upcoming measures by arguing that "the uncertainty created by the Catalan government's announcements can be lethal for citizens."

Outbreak risk and number of cases soaring

As of October 13, the outbreak risk has skyrocketed in the past 10 days, doubling from 159 to 338 points in the iEPG index –  the threshold of 'high' risk is 100, and 'very high' is 200.

This level has not been seen since late March, during the peak of the crisis.

The number of cases is also soaring: from October 2 to October 8, Catalonia reported 11,634 infections by PCR and other methods, the highest weekly rise since the second wave of the pandemic started during the summer.

Hospitalized on the rise

As for the transmission rate, on average every person with Covid-19 is now transmitting the virus to 1.33 people, significantly higher than the authorities' aim of 1, but below levels in seen in July, when it was 1.8, or in March, when it almost reached 5.

Another worrying figure is the number of people hospitalized because of the disease, now at 984, after a sharp rise of 111 in two days – the figure had not been less than 550 or higher than 810 for two months up until October, when the numbers went up.

The number of people in ICUs has also risen lately, up to 172 at the same time – yet, still far below the peak of 1,529 seen in the spring.

The number of declared deaths with Covid-19 per day in October has oscillated roughly from 10 to 25, also far below figures seen at the peak of the pandemic, when fatalities per day were normally above 100.