Society 29/12/2021

Covid quarantines cut to seven days

Sánchez defends "balance" between health and the economy before the expansion of the Omicron variant

2 min
Pedestrians wearing masks near the Collblanc Market, in l'Hospitalet de Llobregat, in an archive image

BarcelonaThe Public Health Commission, which brings together the Ministry of Health and autonomous communities, has given the green light for people infected by covid-19 to reduce their quarantine to seven days whether they are vaccinated or not, as Ministry of Health sources have confirmed. The commission has finally met this Wednesday at noon, just before the Interterritorial Health Council, which will have to ratify the agreement. Earlier today, some regional governments, including Catalonia's, had shown their support for shortening quarantines, which are now ten days, if the ministry proposed it.

The sixth wave of the pandemic continues to soar and contagion is rampant. The restrictions to try to curb social activity have been spreading throughout the state and there was an open debate on shortening quarantines. The Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, has avoided taking a position on the matter when asked about it during this Wednesday's press conference. Instead, he preferred to wait for the decision that was to be taken this afternoon. Sánchez did defend a "balance between public health, mental health and economic growth". "These three areas are where the Spanish government is operating in the co-governance with the regional governments," he said.

Sánchez's words did not draw a clear message, but it is true that one of the arguments for shortening quarantines was to try to reduce the number of people on sick leave due to the explosion of contagions. "We continue working and taking measures. This is what the Spanish government has done this year, hand in hand with regional governments, in order to deal with the pandemic," Sánchez insisted.

Catalonia, in favour of reducing quarantines

The Catalan government is in favour of reducing covid-19 quarantines if so proposed by the State. The Interterritorial Council, which brings together the Ministry of Health and regional Health Departments, had to ratify the decision this afternoon. "The idea is to have a joint position," explained Catalan Secretary of Public Health Carmen Cabezas. Cabezas has insisted on the "social impact" caused by quarantines at a time when the number of infections is "very high".

Apart from Catalonia, other regions such as Madrid, Cantabria, Extremadura, the Balearic Islands, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha would also be in favor of this change, provided that it is a joint state strategy. The debate was sparked by the United States' decision to shorten quarantibes for symptom-free cases from ten days to five, a step that Italy is now also considering.

The discussion comes at a time when Spain, like other countries in the region, registered record numbers of infections since the pandemic began, mainly as a result of the Omicron variant. Only yesterday, there were almost 100,000 new cases in Spain.

Despite the record contagion, Sánchez has reiterated that the Spanish government's strategy to contain the rise in cases involves vaccination and prudence. "After almost two years of the pandemic, we can draw some lessons from science and our own daily experience. Now we are more prepared against Omicron than a year ago," he said, and explained that most cases are asymptomatic or mild thanks to vaccines. He added that the number of people admitted to ICUs is very different to previous waves, or even among vaccinated people.