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Health authorities see ‘slowdown’ of latest pandemic wave

Primary care centers are overwhelmed and indicators show record highs, as experts suggest 6th wave peak could be soon

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12 January 2022 03:14 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Despite the fact that the sixth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has not yet reached its peak, there is a "clear slowdown" in transmissions, health minister Josep Maria Argimon said on Tuesday. 

Nearly 100,000 people visited their primary care centers on Monday, an all-time record, and the strain on CAPs is being strongly felt by healthcare workers. Not only are health centers dealing with patients ill with the virus, but the unprecedented numbers requiring care is also bringing with it an unprecedented level of paperwork that needs to be filed in conjunction. 

All the while, various pandemic indicators continue to surge to new heights and will continue to do so until the peak is reached. 

Secretary of public health, Carmes Cabezas, admitted on Wednesday that it’s “very difficult” to know when exactly that peak will arrive, but she added that health authorities are observing "a certain slowdown" in some indicators.

Cabezas has also called on Spanish health authorities to open up booster doses to more age groups, as well as dependent people and their carers. 

The next age group to have the third dose offered to them will be people aged 30 and up.

She also proposed shortening the interval for the booster shot, which is six months in the case of Pfizer and Moderna, to five months, in accordance with international recommendations such as that of the United States. 

Even the government are anticipating a turnaround in the pandemic picture soon. Spokesperson Patrícia Plaja said yesterday that if Catalonia’s Covid situation improves, authorities will not seek to renew the nightly 1 am curfew beyond the date it is currently set to expire, January 21. 

However, whatever de-escalation of measures does take place, it will be done gradually, Plaja explained.

Latest pandemic indicators

Hospitalizations and the number of patients requiring intensive care due to Covid-19 continues to rise. The latest data provided by health authorities on Wednesday indicated that 2,312 people across Catalonia were being given medical care because of the virus, while 525 were in ICUs.

In the past two weeks, hospitalizations have gone up by 47% (from 1,565 to 2,312), while patients in intensive care have surged by 21% (from 413 to 525). These figures are still some way from the all-time highs of 3,038 hospitalizations, seen on January 24, 2021, and 713 ICU patients, seen on February 1 and 2 of last year.

The sixth wave is providing record highs in other indicators, such as new daily cases, incidence rate, and outbreak risk.

The IA14, the number of new cases seen over a two-week period per 100,000 population, hit a new record high on December 25 and since then has not dipped below that point. The latest data shows that the metric now stands at 3,823.13.

The highest incidence rate seen in Catalonia before this wave was recorded on July 24, 2021, with 1,245.31 cases per 100,000 population. 

Wednesday saw Catalonia’s outbreak risk exceed 4,000 points (4,040), growing 144 points in the past 24 hours.

Vaccination campaign

As of January 11, 2022, 6,384,719 residents have been given the first dose of the vaccine, 80.7% of the total population. Out of those, 5,531,494 have also been administered a second dose (70% of the total population). 6,117,880 residents are considered to be fully immunized (77%). 

Under 65s who have already had the virus are only required to have the first dose, and others have received a single-dose jab. Therefore, the % of two doses administered and % fully immunized do not match.

Booster shots are currently being given to those aged 40 to 49people between 50 and 59, for those between 60 and 69those 70 and overimmunocompromised peoplecare home residents, and anyone who received the Janssen vaccine. On December 16, authorities also approved them for residents in their 50s and those who had AstraZeneca at least three months ago, regardless of their age.  

As of January 11, 2022, Catalonia has administered 2,355,350 third doses (30.1%). Official data show that 32.9% of residents have received a booster shot (which includes those who had a third jab plus people who only got one jab in the initial vaccination series and then received a booster, their second shot). 

How can I get vaccinated in Catalonia if I do not have public health coverage?

Anyone who is registered in a municipal 'padró' census is entitled to at least basic CatSalut public health coverage, which includes Covid care and vaccinations.

You can apply for a health card here. Once you have received a CIP number, you can request access to La Meva Salut, the website and app from which medical records – including vaccination certificates – can be downloaded and health queries can be made. You will also be able to book vaccination appointments online. Vaccinations are only administered through the public health system.  

To see the daily figures of the pandemic, including cases, deaths, outbreak risk, and transmission rate, check out this page.

To read more Catalan News coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Catalonia, see here.

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  • A girl performing a self-test in a pharmacy, on December 28, 2021 (by Pol Solà)

  • A girl performing a self-test in a pharmacy, on December 28, 2021 (by Pol Solà)

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