Madrid detects at least 4 cases of British covid-19 strain but does not tighten restrictions
Three more cases under study but Ayuso's government calls for calm
MadridIt was only a matter of time. The new strain of covid-19 -70% more contagious- which has led to the United Kingdom back into lockdown and the cancellation of flights by different European states has now reached Spain. The Madrid region has detected at least four cases and is studying three more, as explained today by the Deputy Minister of Public Health, Antonio Zapatero, during a telematic press conference. However, the Spanish capital is not planning to apply additional measures beyond restricting mobility in four more basic health areas from 28 December, bringing the total to ten. This is a small proportion compared to the worst of the second wave, when there were restrictions, albeit with little compliance, in more than 40 areas. Zapatero called for "calm" and recalled that it is a more contagious strain but not one with more serious effects.
The four confirmed cases are related to travellers from the United Kingdom who "have entered through the Madrid-Barajas airport" - despite the fact that not all of them came from this country, as there has already been contagion -, the Madrid government explained. It must be taken into account that President Isabel Díaz Ayuso has been very hard on Pedro Sánchez's government regarding the restriction measures in airports. While ignoring calls for her to lock down Madrid, she demanded that the central make it a requirement to have had a negative PCR test in the last 72 hours to enter the country by plane. Now, Ayuso goes further and demands that all passengers arriving by plane in Spain be given an antigen test.
The first case was detected on Christmas Eve, last Thursday. A young man who had come from the United Kingdom tested positive for coronavirus in an antigen test that was done in a health centre - Madrid has opted for this more rapid variant - but it was not detected to be the British strain. The day after -Christmas-, both his mother, father and sister went to the hospital to have a PCR test after having some symptoms. It was discovered that they had caught the new British strain after having a specific genomic test.
In turn, another young man had a PCR on Tuesday and tested positive for this variant. There are two more suspicious cases that Zapatero has not yet specified, as details will not be known until Tuesday or Wednesday; explanations so far has proven to be unclear. In the case of the family, as they were given an antigen test, it is still not totally certain that it is indeed a case of the new British strain, despite the information on the possible contagion. In all cases the symptoms are mild and hospitalisation has not been required.
From the lowest to one of the highest incidences
Madrid thus becomes the first community in Spain to detect the new coronavirus strain. A month ago, it seemed that the Madrid region had managed to overcome the second wave, with the incidence of contagion per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days lower than in any other region. However, the situation has now worsened considerably: contagion incidence was under 200 cases, while it is now at 333. The basic health areas where new restrictions will come into force from Monday until January 11 exceed 400 cases per 100,000 - two months ago the threshold at which action was taken was 1,000. Some of the cases are in neighbourhoods with high purchasing power such as Aravaca, but also more humble areas such as General Moscardó in Tetuán and Reyes Católicos and Quinto Centenario in San Sebastián de los Reyes. The wealthy neighbourhood of La Moraleja will also endure restrictions for another week.
However, in no case are there restrictions on the hospitality industry as in Catalonia or on mobility between large municipalities. The night curfew is also maintained from midnight to six in the morning, except for New Year's Eve. On the other hand, Madrid has invested more than 100 million euros in a hospital without operating theatres to face a possible second wave before the vaccine reaches the population. Ayuso has also questioned whether there are enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Precisely, the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arrived in Spain this morning and will start being administered tomorrow.