Covid-19 outbreak detected in Lleida as neighboring Aragon counties re-enter lockdown
Spanish government not considering re-activating state of alarm in event of new flare-ups unless serious surge in cases
A Covid-19 outbreak was detected by the Catalan health department last week in Lleida's Castrillón care home, as announced on Tuesday, only a day after three Aragonese counties, two of which border Catalonia, re-entered lockdown due to a resurgence in cases, while a fourth Aragonese county was also put in Phase 2 on Tuesday.
All residents and staff members had PCR diagnostic tests carried out after a few people began displaying symptoms, which confirmed that five workers and 13 elderly persons were positive, four of whom have had to be hospitalized.
Aragon outbreaks could affect neighboring Catalonia
While there may not be any relation between this particular outbreak in Lleida and the others that have led the counties of Bajo Cinca and la Litera, bordering western Catalonia, as well as Cinca Medio back into lockdown, on Monday evening Spain's health emergencies director Fernando Simón admitted there was a chance Aragon's could end up affecting neighboring parts of Catalonia.
"We know that some of the outbreaks detected in Lleida are located near the border, but it is not clear whether they have spread from one place to the other," Simón said during a press conference, adding that many cases are associated, however, to seasonal fruit pickers that do tend move around the area to work on different farms.
According to Simón, who said another one of the Spanish health ministry's main concerns at the moment is tracking down any possible imported cases now that most Schengen borders have reopened, both Aragonese and Catalan authorities are working together on the matter.
A fourth Aragonese county, and the third bordering Catalonia, was also put into lockdown de-escalation Phase 2 on Tuesday due to an increase in cases: Zaragoza region's Bajo Aragón-Caspe, which borders Catalonia's southern Terres de l'Ebre.
Another Covid-19 state of alarm?
Meanwhile, Spanish government spokesperson María Jesús Montero stated that authorities do not foresee having to reinstate the state of alarm in the near or medium term.
"At the moment, the pandemic is under control, progressing as expected and there are fewer transmissions," Montero claimed, "therefore, we have the instruments to enclose and limit sporadic outbreaks in specific areas."
Earlier on Tuesday, Spanish vice president Carmen Calvo said the state of alarm could be put in place again if there were a serious increase in cases, although she made it clear this was not the case at the moment.
Catalan government spokesperson Meritxell Budó expressed her discontent about the possibility: "The Catalan government wouldn't understand enforcing another state of alarm. From the first day, we've requested to manage the pandemic [in Catalonia] here."
In any case, epidemiologist Antoni Trilla, of Barcelona's Hospital Clínic, said in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio on Tuesday that he believed the outbreaks that have been detected throughout Spain were manageable. According to him, the greatest risk would be possibly not being able to trace the origin of certain cases, which could pose a public health risk.