Misc 04/12/2020

Health Department confident it can guarantee Christmas plan: "People need to celebrate"

Officials believe traffic leaving cities for Bank Holiday weekend "could have been worse"

2 min
Les llums de Nadal a la Rambla de Barcelona

BarcelonaDespite the Bank Holiday weekend, the number of vehicles leaving Barcelona yesterday only rose by 5%. This is good news, according to the Health Department. "I expected it to be more," acknowledged health official Marc Ramentol, in an interview with RAC1, in reference to the 485,118 vehicles that left the metropolitan area yesterday. He did say, though, that we will have to see what happens in the coming days.

Ramentol has claimed that in the second wave there has been a new element: "pandemic fatigue". This would explain decisions such as going off for a long weekend despite the Government's warnings to restrict mobility. Ramentol has called for "co-responsibility" in order to contain the upward trend in the infection rate.

The Secretary General of the Health Department has insisted that the Government wants to be able to guarantee the Christmas plan and that it will do so as long as the epidemic does not get out of control: "People need to celebrate the Christmas holidays, but we know that if we do not celebrate them properly, the Kings could bring us an epidemic outbreak". He said that in principle Christmas is not in danger, but that we will have to be attentive to the indicators. And he has admitted that they will not be able to control what happens in each home during the holidays -if the limit of ten people is respected- and that it will be necessary for the citizens to understand the importance of abiding by the guidelines.

Ramentol has reiterated that this week there has been a "change of trend" in the rate of transmission of the virus and that this has happened earlier than expected and is what has slowed down the easing of restrictions. "As social interaction increases, inevitably the R number increases," he said, but noted that they were expecting the change later, 10 to 14 days after the change in measures. Now we will have to be attentive to the evolution of the data, which will largely depend on what each person does: "We will see it in the middle or end of next week," he said.

"We are at a time when the accumulated incidence is falling very slowly and, in contrast, the R number is rising," Ramentol stated, and said that the other indicators are going down and hospital beds are freeing up, also in ICUs, but "very slowly".

Half a million vaccinations

Ramentol has hoped that during the first quarter of the year half a million people can be vaccinated in Catalonia, which will not yet make it a "disruptive element" - he has pointed out that this happens when the 70% of the population is vaccinated - but they do hope that it will diminish the impact of the pandemic.

Regarding Madrid's decision to lift mobility restrictions, he explained that this is a community that has had more cases than Catalonia, and that this means paying a toll that the government has not wanted to pay: "Our purpose has been to save as many lives as possible". As for the curfew, he has assured that it is a measure they were initially reluctant to use but has proved "effective" and that "in a reasonable manner" it will have to be maintained at least until the fourth phase of the plan for lifting restrictions.