Catalan Health Minister's self-criticism: festivals "a mistake" and should have "acted sooner"

Argimon says that "things were not properly done" and population was sent "contradictory messages"

2 min
The Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon, in an archive image

BarcelonaThe Catalan Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon, admitted mistakes in the management of the pandemic in Catalonia. "With these figures of contagions, we have clearly not done things properly", he told Catalunya Ràdio, also admitting he should have reacted sooner and announced restrictions. Argimon also apologised for having "contributed to the feeling" that things were already going well. "The message that we were coming out of the tunnel was not the best," he said, and also regretted that at the time did not recommend to the youngest not to leave for end-of-year trips. "I didn't think about it," he said.

Apart from the end-of-year trips, one of the most controversial decisions of the last few days is to have maintained the music festivals such as Vida, Canet Rock or Cruïlla. Despite the fact that they "were very well organized," Argimon has insisted that there were images that he did not like, like people without masks. For the first time, said that letting these festivals, which brought together more than 20,000 people each, "was a mistake". "I would not repeat it," he said. A week ago, the Health Department assured the media that it was not considering cancelling Cruïlla festival.

Although according to preliminary data they "have not had a big impact" in the number of infections, Argimon said that it is not so important this data but "the message that you send" by allowing these festivals, and has admitted, in this sense, that they were "contradictory messages" with Government discourse.

Curfew "essential".

Before finding out the curfew had been approved, Argimon assured that it was an "indispensable" measure to reduce contagions. He explained that the epidemiological data continues to be "very bad", although with a certain "deceleration" in the 15-to-29 age group. This Friday, the Department of Health has recorded 94 more people admitted to hospitals due to covid in the last 24 hours, and there are already 1,349, twice as many as a week ago. Of these, 259 are in ICUs, 22 more than yesterday. Among them are 13 patients under 30 and 92 between 30 and 49.

There have also been 8,880 new cases confirmed by PCR or antigen tests, bringing the total since the beginning to 755,318. The Rt has dropped by 3 tenths of a percentage point to 1.31. The risk of resurgence, however, has risen 56 points to 1,386. In the last 24 hours, 5 more deaths have been reported, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to 22,306. The 14-day cumulative incidence has risen from 1,015.18 to 1,088.80, while the seven-day cumulative incidence has risen from 606.41 to 628.72. Of the tests carried out in the past week, 20.01% came back positive.

Among the people who have been infected, there are a thousand health workers who have been reinfected. Argimon has insisted on the need to protect this group. They are "knackered" and need a holiday.

Vaccinate those infected

On the other hand, Argimon said that there is a discussion on whether recovered covid patients should receive two doses of the vaccines and whether vaccinated close contacts ought to self-isolate. The two issues will be dealt with in the framework of the National Public Health Commission.

Argimon has asked the population to enjoy the holidays but "with prudence and prevention". And as for the future, he has warned that the virus "is not over" and that the Delta variant "will not be the last".