Society 22/02/2021

Catalan Health Minister on the evolution of the pandemic: "We are in a fragile moment".

The percentage of positive tests rises again above 5%, the maximum threshold recommended by the WHO

2 min
A woman, while being vaccinated against covid in a residence for elderly people in Barcelona.

"We are in a fragile moment," said Catalan Health Minister Alba Vergés on the evolution of the pandemic in Catalonia, and the data certify it. After a week balancing below the maximum threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the percentage of positive tests has risen slightly above 5% (5.11% of PCR and antigen tests that have been carried out in the last 7 days have been positive). In addition, the speed of spread of the virus (Rt) has grown significantly (from 0.92 to 0.95) and could reach 1 this week. On the other hand, there are five fewer patients in ICUs in Catalonia. This means we will have to wait to see how these indicators behave in the next updates to confirm new trends.

However, Vergés has already warned that a fourth wave would be "very dramatic". "We are in very key weeks," she said in an interview with TV3. Vergés has not wanted to "speculate" on whether restrictions could change next week and has limited herself to saying that we must pay attention to the epidemiological data. She has pledged to continue to seek "the best balance within this fragility".

Fewer serious patients, but more on the ward

The fragility to which Vergés referred to can be seen in the data published today by the Health Department. On the one hand, critical patients continue to decline and it seems that the downward trend of new cases (about 700) is confirmed, although it must be borne in mind that after the weekend there can always be imbalances. And, on the other hand, new admissions due to covid have risen in Catalan hospitals wards, with 58 more patients than in the last update. In total, there are now 2,029 people in hospital. Effective Potential Growth rises just two points (from 261 to 263) and remains below the data from the beginning of last week.

Next steps

According to Vergés, in the coming weeks it will be necessary to allow "time" to lower the tension in care and vaccination to progress. The reason is that the third wave is behind us in terms of cases but not in terms of pressure on healthcare, which remains "very affected". On possible changes in the behaviour of the pandemic due to the spread of the British variant, Vergés explained that so far the protocols have not been changed but if changes in quarantine rules or testing are required, they will be put in place. She has also maintained that this variant will be the most common in cases detected in the coming weeks, so that any changes in the current pattern of the epidemic will have to be studied closely.

When asked about Easter, Vergés did not want to advance scenarios. Yes he said that she "always" has tried to "find the balance" between what society wanted over key dates such as summer or Christmas, with the epidemiological situation of the moment. Even so, she acknowledged that the situation in summer was "very different" from now. On July 15, for example, there were 331 patients admitted to Catalan ICUs. Today there are 2,029 in normal wards and 588 in intensive care units.