Aragonès on the pandemic: "Things are not going well at the moment. We will take new measures"

"The explosion of cases" and the increase in hospital pressure complicate the fifth wave

3 min
The President of the Government, Pere Aragonès, and the Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon, have met with workers of the University Hospital of Bellvitge

BarcelonaThe tightening of restrictions is back. The evolution of the fifth wave of the pandemic is becoming more complicated and hospitals, which have been under extreme stress for 16 months, are beginning to be overwhelmed. The minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon, has regretted that Catalonia is living "an explosion of cases" in the last two weeks and the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, has said what nobody wanted to hear: "Things are not going well at the moment. We will take new measures". The new restrictions will be announced between tomorrow and the day after tomorrow

Although neither of them wanted to "speculate" on what measures they are considering, Argimon referred to the Cruïlla festival, which was held this weekend, and made it very clear: "I am not in favour of holding mass festivals again at this time". Argimon criticised "some images" that have been seen of the festival and said that "at four or five in the morning it is more difficult to keep the mask on at all times". He also referred to the "graduation parties and end-of-year trips that quickly raise the number of contagions".

The minister explained that they are "in constant contact" with all the actors involved in taking decisions on possible new restrictions and plan to announce the changes soon.

Another problem they have detected is the lack of compliance with self-isolation or quarantine, between infected people or close contacts. According to estimates, right now there are 40% of people who are ignoring this prevention measure. "This means that the infection can spread", lamented the minister.

Careless leisure and lack of compliance with self-isolation are occurring while there are many Catalans who are already vaccinated (58% have the first vaccine, and 46% both) but also at a time when the delta variant, which is much more contagious, is becoming strong in Catalonia. The Generalitat calculates that of all the infected, more than 60% have this variant. "It is already above 60% but sequencing takes between six and eight days and we assume that the figure is higher", said Argimon.

Unscheduling visits

Another consequence of the sharp increase of these two weeks is that some hospitals will have to start to unschedule visits to refocus on covid-19. "The hospitals that receive more pressure are in the area of Barcelona and are the centres that will unschedule the most". On the other hand, as Argimon has indicated, "in the southern area of Terres de l'Ebre there is less pressure". The press conference has taken place at the gates of the University Hospital of Bellvitge, which the president and the minister have visited this morning. The latter has asked the public to take into account health professionals: "We will have to recover lost ground and make the diagnoses, treatments and interventions that we have stopped doing or that we have delayed because of the covid and we need the staff to be fresh and take some time off. They are essential", he insisted.

5.700 new cases

The announcement of the tightening of restrictions comes on the day that 5,781 new cases of covid-19 have been declared in the last 24 hours, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic at 716,190. The R number, which measures the rate of spread, is down again, by 46 hundredths of a point, and now stands at 2.40. The EPG decreases for the first time in several days, 70 points, to 1,758. In parallel, patients admitted to hospital plants are 876, 88 more than in the last balance, while critical patients in ICUs are 160 (+3). In the last 24 hours a new death has been reported and the total since the beginning of the pandemic is 22,283. The cumulative 14-day incidence has risen from 657.84 to 753.91. 17.7% of the tests taken last week came out positive.

Among the people who have been hospitalised because of covid, there are 15 who already had the full vaccination regimen, as vaccines, as Argimon recalled, "are very effective but do not protect at 100%". The minister also recalled that protection does not come until 14 to 21 days after the second dose.